General comparison of international, regional, national assessments


International Assessments

Regional Assessments

National Assessments

Comparability over time Mostly high. Mostly high.

Only comparable for the last 2 cycles.

Could be high if rigorous methods.
Comparability between countries High within each program.

Relatively easy to equate across programs.

More could be done.

Almost as high within each program.

Less easy to equate across programs.

Differences across programs in selected grades complicates comparisons.


Variety of sampled populations, methodologies, interference by governments, lack of documentation, often lack of equating over time.

Timeliness of the statistics One year lag with respect to cycle. Varies – one to four years. Would vary by country, but likely to be timelier than any cross-national program.
Scope for public buy-in and policy impact Results highly influential.

Assessments seen as fair and independent and allow for international comparisons.

Results highly influential.

Concerns around accuracy of statistics and transparency of methods.

If rigorous, results will influence curriculum design and teacher training.

If not, results not taken seriously or risk using weak information to inform policy. 

Scope for national capacity building Limited (restricted to learning by doing).

Paired with more explicit training in the different stages of the assessment cycle.

Regional nature of the program increases countries’ direct involvement in technical aspects. Large role in building capacity at the national level if country experts have access to good materials and training programs.


Alignment to the MPL There is agreement about the levels that align to the MPL although it should be completed with a standard-setting exercise that precisely identifies the MPL in each case.  Could use AMPL to align to the global MPL
Source: UNESCO Institute for Statistics. Based on: Gustafsson, M. (2019). Costs and Benefits of Different Approaches to Measuring