The purpose of this question is to ask for your experiences using PISA released questions at classroom. How do you use them to improve the mathematical competencies of your students? How do you implement assessment of mathematical competencies when working with this kind of questions?


PISA is a program of the OECD. It is an acronym for 'Programme for International Student Assessment'. It is a triennial international survey which aims to evaluate education systems worldwide by testing the skills and knowledge of 15-year-old students. It develops tests which are not directly linked to the school curriculum. The tests are designed to assess to what extent students at the end of compulsory education, can apply their knowledge to real-life situations and be equipped for full participation in society. Fifteen-year-old students from randomly selected schools worldwide take tests in these subjects: reading, mathematics and science. There are also optional assessments (optional for the country which decides to participate in PISA) in Problem Solving and Financial Literacy. The students and their school principals also answer questionnaires to provide information about the students' backgrounds, schools and learning experiences and about the broader school system and learning environment.

You can find PISA released questions and more information in this link:


  • $\begingroup$ Could you describe or provide a link, for those of us who don't know what PISA means? $\endgroup$ Commented Jul 10, 2014 at 21:31
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    $\begingroup$ @brendansullivan07: I have done it. $\endgroup$
    – Charo
    Commented Jul 11, 2014 at 8:19

2 Answers 2


Although I am not a big fan of basing what we do in American mathematics education as a consequence of how America performs on international tests, assessments of any kind do give one "feedback." The purpose of PISA is to see to what extend the mathematics that students learn can be used in their interaction with problems that come up in "daily life." The issue is not can you solve this quadratic equation or factor that polynomial but in essence mathematical modeling skills. At whatever level one teaches - K-12 or college, I think discussing mathematical modeling and the applicability of mathematics is very important. I don't think one has to go to PISA problems here but can draw on the vast array of mathematical questions that encourage modeling. I particular like urban optimization problems (pot hole inspection routes; routes for meals on wheels; scheduling problems) and fairness questions (elections, bankruptcy, apportionment, cost sharing).

  • $\begingroup$ I agree, but a source of well-posed problems (with solutions) in this area is certainly wellcome. (Note I have nothing at all to do with K12.) $\endgroup$
    – vonbrand
    Commented Jul 13, 2014 at 18:50

PISA evaluates the students' abilities to see real-life situations in a mathematical point of view. My country had a terrible performance at the last assessments, and those results can be used to impulse a model that focuses on implementation of problems (complementary, but to a greater extent than the algebra exercises), and suggestions to improve reasoning for mathematical translation of real-life situations.


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