IEA studies consider the processes and outcomes of education and draw on the notion of “opportunity to learn” in order to understand the linkages between:

  • The intended curriculum (what policy requires);

  • The implemented curriculum (what is taught in schools); and

  • The achieved curriculum (what students learn).

Most IEA studies involve assessment of student achievement in one or more subject matters or an interdisciplinary area of learning, contributing to a deep understanding of educational processes within individual countries and across a broad international context. Student achievement is measured by administering objective tests to a sample of students who have been selected as representative of national populations. The IEA also collects background information from school principals, teachers, students (in some studies, also from parents), and policymakers about the factors that affect learning, including school resources, student attitudes, instructional practices, and support at home.

IEA studies have a strong empirical basis, and they rely mainly on cross-sectional and longitudinal non-experimental designs, with data collection through sample survey methods. Studies also make use of qualitative methods such as case studies and observational techniques when appropriate. Since its establishment, the IEA has conducted over 30 comparative studies of educational achievement in a wide range of subject areas and topics. These studies include regular international comparative assessments of student achievement in the following subjects:

The association also conducts studies in subject areas and topics of particular interest to IEA members. These studies include:

The IEA initiated its first study in tertiary education, TEDS-M, in 2005.

For education system interested in enrolling in an IEA study, please visit Join an IEA Study