The International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement
(IEA) is an association of national research institutions and government research agencies related to education
Education in its broadest, general sense is the means through which the aims and habits of a group of people lives on from one generation to the next. Generally, it occurs through any experience that has a formative effect on the way one thinks, feels, or acts...
. The IEA is an independent organization. It was founded in 1958 and is headquartered in Amsterdam
Amsterdam is the largest city and the capital of the Netherlands. The current position of Amsterdam as capital city of the Kingdom of the Netherlands is governed by the constitution of August 24, 1815 and its successors. Amsterdam has a population of 783,364 within city limits, an urban population...
. Many policy-making decisions made in the field of education are influenced by IEA studies.
The focus of the IEA is to conduct research studies of student performance in basic subjects such as math, science, and reading. The IEA studies measure performance between students of different countries and whether certain policies in a particular educational system cause positive or negative effects on learning.
Through its comparative research and assessment projects, IEA aims to:
- Provide international benchmarks that may assist policy-makers in identifying the comparative strength and weaknesses of their educational systems
- Provide high-quality data that will increase policy-makers’ understanding of key school- and non-school-based factors that influence teaching and learning
- Provide high-quality data which will serve as a resource for identifying areas of concern and action, and for preparing and evaluating educational reforms
- Develop and improve educational systems’ capacity to engage in national strategies for educational monitoring and improvement
- Contribute to development of the world-wide community of researchers in educational evaluation
Since its inception in 1958, the IEA has conducted more than 23 research studies of cross-national achievement. The regular cycle of studies encompasses learning in basic school subjects. Examples are
- the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study
The Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study is an international assessment of the mathematics and science knowledge of fourth- and eighth-grade students around the world...
(TIMSS 1995, TIMSS 1999, TIMSS 2003, TIMSS 2007), and
- the Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS 2001, PIRLS 2006).
IEA projects also include studies of particular interest to IEA members, such as
- the TIMSS-R Video Study of Classroom Practices,
- the International Civic and Citizenship Education Study (ICCS),
- the Information Technology in Education Study(SITES-M1, SITES-M2, SITES 2006),
- a pre-primary education study (PPP).
In 2005 IEA initiated also its first study in tertiary education:
- Teachers Education and Development Study in Mathematics (TEDS-M).
IEA studies are an important data source for those working to enhance students’ learning at the international, national and local levels. By reporting on a wide range of topics and subject matters, the studies contribute to a deep understanding of educational processes within individual countries, and across a broad international context. In addition, the cycle of studies provides countries with an opportunity to measure progress in educational achievement in mathematics, science and reading comprehension. The cycle of studies also enables monitoring of changes in the implementation of educational policy and identification of new issues relevant to reform efforts.
Aims, methodology, and interpretation of IEA studies have been often criticised, most famously by Hans Freudenthal
Hans Freudenthal was a Dutch mathematician. He made substantial contributions to algebraic topology and also took an interest in literature, philosophy, history and mathematics education....
, a Dutch mathematician and researcher in math education. He pointed to problems with enrollment rates, the unsolved translation problem, the lack of curricular validity, the overinterpretation of numerical outcomes, "Kafkaesque" confusion in the documentation and in the underlying decisions, dogmatic rejection of criticism.