Selected Moments of the 20th Century

A work in progress edited by Daniel Schugurensky
Department of Adult Education and Counselling Psychology,
The Ontario Institute for Studies in Education of the University of Toronto (OISE/UT)


 International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement (IEA) Conducts Pilot Twelve-Country Study

    In 1959, the International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement (IEA) launched a pilot study with samples of 13-year-old students in 12 countries. The main goal of this IEA study, known as Pilot Twelve-Country Study, was to explore the feasibility of undertaking more extensive investigations of educational achievement. The project was coordinated by the main office of the IEA, at that time based in Hamburg, Germany. finalized in 1962, and testing was carried out in five areas: mathematics, reading comprehension, geography, science, and non-verbal ability. The study produced findings of academic and practical value, but more importantly it demonstrated the feasibility of conducting large-scale, cross-national surveys. It also showed that several research centers from different countries could work together effectively and that it is possible to construct common tests and questionnaires that 'work' cross-culturally. Furthermore, the study revealed that the effects of language differences can be minimized through the careful translation of instruments, and opened the door for further international testing of student achievement that included more countries and more sophisticated evaluation instruments.

    During the remaining of the 20th century, the IEA conducted a variety of studies like the First International Mathematics Study (FIMS) in 1964, the Six Subject Study in 1970, the first Civic Education Study in 1971, the Second International Mathematics Study (SIMS) in 1980, the Classroom Environment Study in 1981, the Second International Science Study (SISS) in 1983, the Written Composition in In 1985, the Preprimary Education longitudinal study (1986-2003), the Computers in Education Study (COMPED) in 1989, the Reading Literacy Study in 1990, t he Third International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) in 1994, the Second Civic Education Study (CIVED) in 1996, and the Second Information Technology in Education Study (SITES) in 1999.

    The pioneering work of the 1959 study with those 12 countries and the subsequent work of the IEA also stimulated the international evaluation of student achievement carried out by other institutions. Among them is t he Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), a triennial world-wide test of 15-year-old students developed in 1997 by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) that in 2000 evaluated the achievement of 265, 000 students from 32 countries.


    Foshay, Arthur W. (2005). Educational Achievement of Thirteen-year-Olds in Twelve Countries. International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement (IEA,

    Programme for International Student Assessment (2000). Knowledge and skills for life. PISA-Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), ISBN/ISSN 9264007245

Prepared by DS, OISE/University of Toronto, 2007


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