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section 4

State Level

TIMSS/PISA – International Assessments

  • Participate at the state level in PISA and/or TIMSS assessments, or support district participation.
  • Incorporate PISA and TIMSS standards into state accountability and assessment systems.
  • Establish a program and funding source for the state or districts to administer international assessments to students.

International Practice Assessments

  • Encourage schools and districts to use online practice tests to see how students compare to international standards.
  • Review sample assessment items from PISA at:
  • TIMSS Challenge in Math and Science: These online assessments provide sample TIMSS assessments in math and science, for grades 3, 4, 7, 8 and 12.
  • Use Dare to Compare:, or (direct link to test). These online assessments have been created using TIMSS, NAEP and CivEd questions. Sample assessments can be found in the following subject areas and grades:
    • Math – grades 4, 8 and 12
    • Science – grades 4 and 8
    • Civics – grades 4, 8 and 9
    • Geography – grades 4, 8 and 12
    • Economics – grade 12
    • History – grades 4, 8 and 12.

Formative, Interim and Summative Assessments

  • Create and provide formative assessments for use in the classroom that are aligned to international standards to assess student progress and inform instructional changes that will address individual student needs.
  • Align state assessments to international standards in reading, math and science.
  • Align formative, interim or model assessments to international standards in reading, math and science.
  • Redesign or adjust assessments in math, reading and science for all grades and align with international assessments.
  • Align state assessments and student accountability with international standards.
  • Ensure all students in public schools have an equal opportunity to demonstrate grade-level international proficiency through the application of knowledge and skills in the core academic areas.
  • Align assessments with international standards to measure a student’s mastery of core content or basic skills and knowledge and with skills necessary for success in the 21st century, such as: evaluating and analyzing information; thinking creatively; problem-solving; applying information to real-life situations; effective communication; and collaboration and teamwork.
  • Adopt statewide assessments aligned to international standards, appropriate for all students, including students with special needs and make adjustments according to assessment results.
  • Develop assessments and supporting instructional materials that interpret the findings from international assessments in ways that are useful for teachers.
  • Compare existing student knowledge and skills with those of high-performing countries (TIMSS practice tests, or other practice assessments).
  • Identify international competency frameworks and assess samples of students’ work.
  • Review the work of other states related to high quality assessments, such as the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP). One resource comes from Alaska and is titled, NAEP Assessment Toolbox for Teachers: Easy-to-Use Classroom Activities Using Questions and Data from the National Assessment of Educational Progress. (1) This publication gives examples of how classroom teachers can use released NAEP questions in the following ways:
    • Improve students’ abilities for self-assessment
    • Teach reasoning skills and strategies
    • Analyze mathematical misconceptions
    • Teach test-taking strategies and use state performance data and NAEP questions to focus instruction
    • Use as a springboard for classroom activities.
    • Adapt the tools and strategies found in this “Toolbox” for international standards and assessments. These international test items can be compared to state standards and assessments (see Additional Resources).


  1. State of Alaska, Alaska Department of Education & Early Development, NAEP Assessment Toolbox for Teachers: Easy-to-Use Classroom Activities Using Questions and Data from the National Assessment of Educational Progress, 1 (Juneau: Alaska Department of Education, 2007),


Download the full toolkit:
(PDF, 6.7MB)