Tag Archives: PISA

So you want to compare educational systems from different countries? Where to start?

Most recent update: October 10, 2016

Comparing educational systems is quite popular, but a very difficult task as the contexts can be very different. Tests as PIRLS, TIMMS or PISA do a good job trying to bypass this burden, but still the impact of the context remains.

There are some good resources for getting to know the different educational systems and countries.

For European countries a good starting point is Eurypedia:

Eurypedia offers comprehensive descriptions of 38 European education systems, usually at national level, but sometimes also at regional level. All information is available in English with some national information available in the language of the country or region concerned.

Aiming at providing the most accurate picture of education systems and latest reforms in Europe, Eurypedia is a resource tool which is regularly updated and completed by the Eurydice Network and its National Units. Powered by MediaWiki, it involves education experts and national ministries responsible for education from across Europe.

The OECD is adding information to a new tool, their Education GPS:

Education GPS is the source for internationally comparable data on education policies and practices, opportunities and outcomes. Accessible any time, in real time, the Education GPS provides you with the latest information on how countries are working to develop high-quality and equitable education systems.

The OECD isn’t the only one organizing international comparisons. There are also the TIMSS & PIRLS studies. With the release of the new TIMSS-results a TIMSS 2015 Encyclopedia was published:

“a comprehensive compendium of how mathematics and science are taught around the world. Each TIMSS 2015 country and benchmarking participant prepared a chapter summarizing key aspects of mathematics and science education, and completed the TIMSS 2015 Curriculum Questionnaire. The chapters describe the structure of each education system, the mathematics and science curricula in the primary and lower secondary grades, and overall policies related to mathematics and science instruction. Taken together, the data from the curriculum questionnaire and the information in the chapters present a concise yet rich portrait of mathematics and science education globally, and make the TIMSS 2015 Encyclopedia an indispensable resource for policy and research in comparative education.”

But there is a lot more, I found these on the website of the NY University library:

    UNESCO furnishes a wealth of data and publications on educational programs around the world. See especially their statistical data portal. Check also their Global report on education for all (or this summary).
  • SourceOECD
    SourceOECD is the online library of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. Education literature is well represented in the OECD member countries documents.
  • Education Policy and Data Center
    Education Policy and Data Center (EPDC) provides free global education data, tools for better data visualization, and policy-oriented analysis aimed at improving schools and learning in developing countries.
  • Millenium Indicators
    This site presents the official data, definitions, methodologies and sources for more than 60 indicators to measure progress towards the Millennium Development Goals. The data and analyses are the product of the work of the Inter-agency and Expert Group (IAEG) on MDG Indicators, coordinated by the United Nations Statistics Division.
  • World Bank EdStats
    EdStats collects worldwide data on education from national statistical reports, statistical annexes of new publications, and other data sources.
  • World Development Indicators
    The World Bank’s WDI statistics show country-level detail on a wide variety of areas.
  • International Comparisons in Education
    Also known as the International Activities Program, NCES supports a variety of activities to provide statistical data for cross-national comparisons of education. Developing indicators and conducting international assessments and surveys are two main area of activities.
  • Open Doors
    Open Doors is a comprehensive information resource on international students and scholars studying or teaching at higher education institutions in the United States, and U.S. students studying abroad for academic credit at their home colleges or universities.

And I received this addition from Alexandra Draxler:

  • SACMEQ: The Southern and Eastern Africa Consortium for Monitoring Educational Quality (SACMEQ) is an international non-profit developmental organization of 15 Ministries of Education in Southern and Eastern Africa that decided to work together to share experiences and expertise in developing the capacities of education planners to apply scientific methods to monitor and evaluate the conditions of schooling and the quality of education.
  • PASEC (in French): Established in 1991, the CONFEMEN Programme for the Analysis of Education Systems (PASEC) aims at providing information about the evolution of education systems’ performance, to contribute to the development and monitoring of education policies. In two decades, over twenty African and Asian countries have been supported by PASEC in conducting national evaluations. In 2012, PASEC established international comparative evaluations, to better meet countries’ needs.


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