The ISA is designed specifically for students in Grades 3–10 in international schools and schools with an international focus, whose language of instruction is English.
Schools use the ISA because:
- it is not specific to a single curriculum;
- it tests core skills in mathematical literacy, reading, writing and scientific literacy;
- the test material is eclectic, drawing on many cultural and national sources;
- the assessments are designed with the knowledge that more than half of the test takers have first languages other than English;
- it includes writing tasks and open-ended questions to better illuminate students’ thinking processes;
- it provides diagnostic information that can be used at the school, class, or individual level;
- performance on the ISA can be related to international benchmarks;
- they can evaluate the reliability of their internal assessments and confirm that they are aligned with international expectations of performance;
- scaled ISA scores enable monitoring of student performance over time; and
- it enables comparison of the results of their Grade 8 ,9 and 10 students with the PISA results for each country that participated in the latest PISA administration.
The ISA improves learning by:
- measuring individual students’ achievement in order to reflect on and address strengths and weaknesses;
- monitoring an individual’s or group’s progress over time;
- evaluating instructional programs against objective evidence of student performance, to diagnose gaps, and to measure growth in learning between grade levels and from year to year within one grade level;
- comparing subgroup performance (for example, girls and boys; students from different language backgrounds) to see where there may be unexpected results and try to understand them; and
- providing normative data in relation to selected populations to ‘see how we are doing’.