IEA conducts large-scale comparative studies of educational achievement and other aspects of education, with the aim of gaining in-depth understanding of the effects of policies and practices within and across systems of education.
IEA studies consider the processes and outcomes of education and draw on the notion of “opportunity to learn” in order to understand the linkages between:
- The intended curriculum (what policy requires)
- The implemented curriculum (what is taught in schools) and
- The achieved curriculum (what students learn).
Since 1958, IEA has conducted over 30 comparative studies of educational achievement in a wide range of subject areas and topics. Current IEA studies measure student achievement in subjects such as mathematics and science (TIMSS), reading (PIRLS), civic and citizenship education (ICCS), and computer and information literacy (ICILS).
Most IEA studies involve assessment of student achievement in one or more subject matters or an interdisciplinary area of learning, contributing to a deep understanding of educational processes within individual countries and across a broad international context. Student achievement is measured by administering objective tests to a sample of students who have been selected as representative of national populations. IEA also collects background information from school principals, teachers, students (in some studies, also from parents), and policymakers about the factors that affect learning, including school resources, student attitudes, instructional practices, and support at home.
IEA studies have a strong empirical basis, and they rely mainly on cross-sectional and longitudinal non-experimental designs, with data collection through sample survey methods. Studies also make use of qualitative methods such as case studies and observational techniques when appropriate.
IEA studies are directed by international study centres who work closely with IEA colleagues and national representatives to develop and implement all aspects of the study. Since their inception, our two flagship studies, TIMSS and PIRLS have been directed by the TIMSS & PIRLS International Study Center at the Lynch School of Education in Boston College.
Our ICCS and ICILS studies are directed by the Australian Council for Educational Research. IEA is grateful to our partners at both study centers for their expertise, guidance and long-term collaborations.