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Located at Boston College’s Lynch School of Education, IEA’s TIMSS & PIRLS International Study Center conducts regular international comparative assessments of student achievement in mathematics and science (TIMSS) and in reading (PIRLS) in more than 60 countries. TIMSS (the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study) and PIRLS (the Progress in International Reading Literacy Study) together comprise the core cycle of studies for IEA – the International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement. Headquartered in Amsterdam and with a major data processing and research center in Hamburg, IEA has been conducting international comparative studies of student achievement since 1959.

TIMSS and PIRLS enable participating countries to make evidence-based decisions for improving educational policy. Some of the ways governments and ministries use TIMSS and PIRLS results include:

  • Measuring the effectiveness of their educational systems in a global context
  • Identifying gaps in learning resources and opportunities
  • Pinpointing any areas of weakness and stimulating curriculum reform
  • Measuring the impact of new educational initiatives
  • Training researchers and teachers in assessment and evaluation

TIMSS and PIRLS also collect extensive data about the contextual factors that affect learning, including school resources, student attitudes, instructional practices, and support at home. This information can be examined in relation to achievement to explore factors that contribute to academic success.

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International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement

Read about the IEA, based in Amsterdam, The Netherlands, and Hamburg, Germany.

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Lynch School of Education at Boston College

TIMSS & PIRLS International Study Center is located at the Lynch School of Education at Boston College.


Since 1995, TIMSS has monitored trends in mathematics and science achievement every four years, at the fourth and eighth grades. TIMSS 2015 was the sixth such assessment, providing 20 years of trends.

TIMSS Advanced studies achievement in advanced mathematics and physics for students in their final year of secondary school. TIMSS Advanced was conducted in 1995, 2008, and 2015.

TIMSS Numeracy, introduced for 2015, measures learning outcomes at the fourth grade for countries where most children are still developing fundamental mathematics skills.

PIRLS has monitored trends in reading achievement at the fourth grade since 2001. PIRLS is administered every five years, making 2016 the fourth assessment of PIRLS.

PIRLS Literacy, new for 2016, is a less challenging version of PIRLS for countries with student populations still developing fundamental reading skills at the end of primary school.

ePIRLS, a computerized assessment of online reading comprehension, debuted in 2016. It monitors how well fourth grade students read, interpret, and critique online information in an environment that looks and feels like the Internet.