PISA assesses fifteen-year-olds in three "literacy" areas: reading, mathematics, and science. The 2000 survey focused on reading, the 2003 on mathematics, and the 2006 on science.
The first administration of PISA occurred in 2000. From the PISA 2000 data, three general themes emerged:
- Autonomous education systems perform better than centralized ones.
- Education systems that monitor and assess their performance have better results than those that did not undertake period assessments.
- Countries that provide support to low-performing students have overall higher academic achievements than those who do not.
The 2003 survey added a problem solving section, as that year's survey focused on mathematics. The 2006 survey included 57 countries (including OECD and non-OECD) and covered over 90% of the world's economy.