The Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) is a survey of educational achievement organised by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). The SFR will release the main findings for England, set in the context of the results for other parts of the UK and for other countries which took part in PISA 2006.

PISA repeats every three years. Each cycle focuses mainly on one of three areas: reading literacy, mathematical literacy and scientific literacy. The main focus for the 2006 round was science, with reading and mathematics as minor domains. PISA defines scientific literacy as the ability to identify questions, acquire new knowledge, explain scientific phenomena, and draw evidence-based conclusions about science-related issues.

The first PISA study was undertaken in 32 countries in 2000 (supplemented with a further 11 countries in 2002). 41 countries participated in the second cycle in 2003. 57 countries took part in the third cycle (2006), including all 30 OECD member states.

PISA directly measures the attainment of fifteen-year-olds. In England, for the 2006 exercise the test population was Year 11, i.e. those aged fifteen at the beginning of the academic year. Fieldwork took place in November 2006 under test conditions, following the standardised procedures implemented by all countries.

In addition to the direct assessment, pupils completed a questionnaire to provide information on their economic and social backgrounds, study habits, and attitudes to science and to science learning. A school questionnaire provided information on the school's size, intake, resources and organisation, as well as science activities available in the school.

Statement issued on 30 November 2007 There was a leak of PISA data in Spanish and German newspapers on 28 November. In response, the OECD has issued a statement. The OECD has also published Fig 2.11c of the international PISA report which sets out countries' mean scores and range of rankings in the science achievement of fifteen-year-olds. The OECD intends to keep to the agreed embargo of 10am Paris time (9am GMT) on 4 December.

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Steve Leman
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