Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) and Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS)

As part of the National Assessment Program (NAP), Australian students participate in the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMMS) and the Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS) which are administered by the International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement. TIMSS is undertaken every four years by Year 4 and Year 8 students, to measure achievement in content and cognitive domains in mathematics and science. PIRLS is undertaken every five years by Year 4 students to measure achievement in the areas of reading for literacy experience and reading to acquire and use information.

Australia has participated in each TIMSS cycle since it began in 1995. The results from the TIMSS 2015 cycle are available. Australia participated in PIRLS for the first time in 2011. Results from the PIRLS 2016 cycle are due to be released in December 2017.   

Australia’s participation in TIMSS and PIRLS supports Australia’s commitment to conducting national and international comparisons of teaching approaches and student performance. Australia’s results from these assessments are one of the primary measures used for reporting purposes for the agreed Council of Australian Governments outcome “Australian students excel by international standards.” International assessments complement other assessments in the National Assessment Program (NAP) by providing long‑term trend data and the opportunity to benchmark Australia’s performance against other countries.  

As TIMSS and PIRLS are sample assessments, not all Australian students participate in testing. Sample sizes are drawn from all Australian schools with over 16,000 Year 4 and Year 8 students participating in TIMSS 2015, and around 6000 students participating in PIRLS 2015 assessments. These results provided an international perspective for Australia on teaching and learning in mathematics and science, and reading literacy. Internationally, more than 600,000 students participated in TIMSS 2015 and around 300,000 students participated in PIRLS 2011.

The Australian Council for Educational Research (ACER) is currently the National Project Manager for the delivery of these assessments in Australian schools.

Want to know more?

Visit the Australian National Project Manager’s Website (ACER) for further information and reports on international assessments.