The international program PISA is a survey conducted every third year of 15 year olds in 30 member countries of the OECD and in numerous other partner countries. It evaluates the acquisition of knowledge and skills essential to daily life at the end of the period of obligatory education. The tests cover the domains of reading, mathematics, and science. During each evaluation, one of these subjects is given prominence. The first collections of data took place in 2000, with the following in 2003 and 2006. The next are planned for 2009. The international program is described in detail on the PISA website of the OECD. The international data are also made available there.
The Swiss Federal Office of Statistics (OFS), responsible for the first three cycles of the survey in Switzerland, mandated that FORS make available the Swiss data from 2000. The Swiss data from the 2003 survey are available from the Federal Office of Statistics (see the PISA website from OFS), either in the form of a public use sample, or as a dataset created for researchers.
The sample of 15 year old students
The international program targets the population of 15 year old students. A first sample was therefore constructed in Switzerland in conformity with the international program: the national sample of 15 year old students, which OFS designated as an international sample.
The sample of 9th year students
If one considers the survey from the perspective of the educational system, it can be interesting to take as a reference point not age but the level attained in the educational system. A second sample therefore was created, the national sample of 9th year students (for the OFS: national sample). This dataset also includes the complementary samples pulled from the same frames in the cantons of Berne, Zurich, and St. Gall.
A technical document describes this double sampling procedure in detail.
Oversampling in French-speaking Switzerland
Oversampling was carried out in French-speaking Switzerland, but on a different basis. All students from randomly selected classes were included in the project, compared to the national 9th year student sample and supplementary samples in German speaking Switzerland, where students were selected at random from selected classrooms.
A detailed description of the archived datasets is available in the data catalogue. For more information concerning the realization and use of the international survey in Switzerland, see also the OFS PISA website.
The Swiss data and documentation for the 2000 survey can be downloaded directly from the FORS server. The data collected in Switzerland are freely accessible and free of charge, as well as the international data. It is only asked that interested persons make their identify known, such that OFS is aware of the extent of the use of the data.
In case of publication using analyses based on PISA data, the authors are asked to cite their source - the Federal Office of Statistics - and to send the project leader a copy of the publication.
Before using the data themselves, it is recommended to study the complete documentation available. The dataset is complex and should thus be approached with prudence.
Access to testing instruments must be authorized, and the user must explicitly agree not to distribute the contents. Requests for access should be sent to the address below using this form (.doc/.pdf).
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