170 English schools took part in PISA 2012, the Department for Education
(DfE) has confirmed. 7.06% of these were private schools. The rest were either maintained selective or maintained non-selective schools. The sample was not stratified according to whether schools were academies or not.
21 of the schools were in Greater London, 49 in the North, 54 in the Midlands and 46 in the South.
£200,000 was paid to the OECD to support the development of PISA tests. A further £575,000 was paid to administer PISA in England payable between October 2010 and December 2014. The cost of administering PISA 2009 was £557,000.
Most participating countries administered the tests to 15-16 year-olds during a six week period falling between March and August 2012. However, England, Wales and Northern Ireland were allowed an exemption because the test period fell in the run-up to GCSEs. 15-16 year-olds in these three countries were tested in November and December 2012. The group tested, therefore, were at the beginning of the last year of lower secondary education* rather than at the end as was the case with pupils in other countries. In other words, pupils in England, Wales and Northern Ireland took the tests at a younger age than their international peers who would have been coming to the end of the year in which they were aged 15-16 years. It’s unclear whether this difference in ages would have any impact on the results.
*in most countries, lower secondary education finishes at 16. Pupils progress to upper secondary education from age 16-18 before graduating at age 18. The terms “lower secondary” and “upper secondary” tend not to be used in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.