In all PISA cycles the domains of reading, mathematical and science literacy are assessed. For the PISA 2006 cycle, the focus will be on scientific literacy. The major domain will be tested in detail, taking up nearly two-thirds of the total testing time. Mathematical and reading literacy will be tested through items already used in previous cycles (link items). The Consortium, through the test developers and expert groups, and in extensive consultation with national centres, developed the test items. A thorough analysis of the student responses will not only provide insight into possible relations linking different competences, but will also help identify trend indicators showing how student results change over time.
To gather contextual information, PISA asks students and the principals of their schools to respond to background questionnaires. The questionnaires are central to the analysis of results in terms of a range of student and school characteristics. A Questionnaire Expert Group has been established to assist the Consortium in the development of a conceptual questionnaire framework, the selection of the themes, and the inclusion of additional instruments as international options.
As a matter of fact, this year Italy will also use two additional questionnaires that were offered as international options - ICT and Parent Questionnaire (see below).