PISA 2025 Science Framework

Explore the main sections below or download the full PISA 2025 Science Framework Draft in PDF format.


The PISA 2025 science framework defines the competencies that are developed by science education. These are perceived to be a key educational outcome for students, to engage with science-related issues, with the ideas of science, and to use them for informed decision-making. The scientific competencies define what is considered important for young people to know, value, and be able to do in situations requiring the use of scientific and technological knowledge.

The science framework describes three science competencies and a subset of three environmental science competencies. It also describes the three types of knowledge required by students for these competencies, the three main contexts in which students will face scientific challenges, and the aspects of science identity that are deemed important.

The PISA 2025 assessment measures how well countries are preparing their students with an understanding of science and how science produces reliable knowledge. This is crucial for citizens who need to make informed personal decisions about science-related phenomena such as health and the environment to engage in action within their families, local communities, and wider societies. It is particularly important in the 21st century when humanity faces an uncertain future as it enters the Anthropocene, an era in which human impact is significantly changing Earth’s systems. A knowledge of science then matters at the individual, regional, and global levels as we seek to address these impacts.

What’s new in PISA 2025

Previous PISA frameworks for the science assessment have elaborated a conception of “scientific literacy” as the outcome of education and the central concept for science assessment. The PISA 2025 framework shifts to one which is broader. The focus of the document is now on the general outcomes of science education to bring the science framework in line with those for mathematics and reading, and not specifically on “science literacy”.

In developing the 2025 framework, two previous competencies (“Evaluate and design scientific enquiry” and “Interpret data and evidence scientifically”) were merged into one: “Construct and evaluate designs for scientific enquiry and interpret scientific data and evidence critically”. This change was made to place more emphasis on the evaluation of designs, as few adults are likely to be engaged in designing experiments, and because both competencies were felt to be part of the process of engaging in enquiry. 

With the societal context now dominated by information sources on the Internet, many of them scientific, this places a new emphasis on educating students to “research, evaluate, and use scientific information for decision making and action”. Hence, the addition of this third new competency.

There has been a change to the affective factors influencing the competency from a focus on attitudes towards science to a focus on measuring a broader concept of “science identity”, which has been shown to be more comprehensive in describing students’ engagement in science.

Finally, but importantly, is the focus on education for sustainability and environmental education. These elements are synthesized under the concept of “Agency in the Anthropocene” and the framework defines competencies which are considered elements of this construct which will be measured in the 2025 assessment.

Science competencies


  • Personal
  • Local/National
  • Global

Requires individuals to display:

Explain phenomena scientifically Construct and evaluate designs for scientific enquiry, and interpret scientific data and evidence critically Research, evaluate, and use scientific information for decision making and action Science competencies Environmental science competencies

A scientifically educated person can engage in reasoned discourse about science, sustainability, and technology to inform action. This requires the competencies to:

The degree to which 15-year-old students can undertake these tasks is a measure of the outcomes of their science education.

Science competencies

Explain phenomena scientifically

The cultural achievement of science is a set of explanatory theories that have transformed our understanding of the natural world. The competency to explain phenomena that occur in the material world therefore depends on knowledge of these major ideas of science.

Students need to recognize, produce, apply, and evaluate explanations and solutions for a range of natural and technological phenomena and problems, demonstrating the ability to: 

  • Recall and apply appropriate scientific knowledge
  • Use different forms of representations and translate between these forms
  • Make and justify appropriate scientific predictions and solutions
  • Identify, construct, and evaluate models
  • Recognize and develop explanatory hypotheses of phenomena in the material world
  • Explain the potential implications of scientific knowledge for society

Constructing explanations of scientific, technological, and environmental phenomena, however, requires more than the ability to recall and use theories, explanatory ideas, information, and facts (content knowledge). Offering a scientific explanation also requires an understanding of how such knowledge has been derived and the level of confidence we might hold about any scientific claims. For this competency, the individual requires a knowledge of the standard procedures and practices used in scientific enquiry to obtain such knowledge (procedural knowledge), and an understanding of their role and function in justifying the knowledge produced by science (epistemic knowledge).

Science competencies

Construct and evaluate designs for scientific enquiry, and interpret scientific data and evidence critically

A knowledge of science implies that students should understand the endeavour of scientific enquiry, including its evaluation within a community, and its commitment to publishing findings.

Students need to construct, appraise, and evaluate scientific investigations, ways of addressing questions scientifically and interpret the data, demonstrating the ability to:

  • Identify the question in a given scientific study
  • Propose an appropriate experimental design
  • Evaluate whether an experimental design is best suited to answer the question
  • Interpret data presented in different representations, draw appropriate conclusions from data and evaluate their relative merits

This competency requires knowledge of the key features and practices of an experimental investigation and other forms of scientific enquiry (content and procedural knowledge), as well as the function of procedures in justifying any claims advanced by science (epistemic knowledge). It may also require the use of basic mathematical tools to analyze or summarize data.

Science competencies

Research, evaluate, and use scientific information for decision making and action

The past decade has seen an explosion in the amount and flow of information and the ability of individuals to access this information. Unfortunately, as well as a flow of valid and reliable information, there has been an increasing flow of misinformation, and worse, disinformation. When it comes to scientific information, both valid and misinformed, all citizens need the competency to judge the credibility and value of the information that commonly surround any science-related issue.

There is increasing concern about the ease with which people accept beliefs claimed to be “scientific”, for which there is no substantive material evidence and for which there is good evidence to the contrary. A scientifically educated person should understand the importance of developing a sceptical disposition, which seeks to ask if there is a conflict of interest, whether there is an established scientific consensus and whether the source has relevant expertise.

At the core of this competency is an understanding that science is a communal enterprise, and that science is not infallible. While individual scientists or teams may be mistaken, consensus from the community is more trustworthy, as it is the product of extensive peer review within that community representing knowledge that has been checked and rechecked many times.

Students need to research and evaluate scientific information, claims, and arguments in a variety of representations and contexts, and draw appropriate conclusions, demonstrating the ability to:

  • Search, evaluate, and communicate the relative merits of different sources of information (scientific, social, economic, and ethical) that may have significance or merit in arriving at decisions on science-related issues, and whether they support an argument or a solution
  • Distinguish among claims based on strong scientific evidence, expert vs. non-expert, and opinion, and provide reasons for the distinction
  • Construct an argument to support an appropriate scientific conclusion from a set of data
  • Critique standard flaws in science-related arguments e.g., poor assumptions, cause vs. correlation, faulty explanations, generalizations from limited data
  • Justify decisions using scientific arguments, either individual or communal, that contribute to solving contemporary issues or sustainable development

This competency requires students to possess both procedural and epistemic knowledge but may also draw, to varying degrees, on their content knowledge of science.

The opportunity to learn digital skills in school is far from universal.

  • 54%

    of students in OECD countries reported being trained at school on how to recognize whether information is biased or not.

Students in OECD countries reported being taught the following digital skills during their entire school experience:

Top country/economy OECD average Bottom country/economy How to detect phishing or spam emails How to use the short description below the links in the list of results of a search How to detect whether the information is subjective or biased How to use keywords when using a search engine such as Google, Yahoo, etc. How to compare different web pages and decide what information is more relevant for your schoolwork How to decide whether to trust information from the Internet To understand the consequences of making information publicly available online on Facebook, Instagram, etc. 0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80 90 100

Environmental science competencies


  • Personal
  • Local/National
  • Global

Requires individuals to display:

Explain the impact of human interactions with Earth’s systems Make informed decisions to act based on evaluation of diverse sources of evidence and application of creative and systems thinking to regenerate and sustain the environment Demonstrate respect for diverse perspectives, and hope, in seeking solutions to socioecological crises Environmental science competencies Science competencies

A young person growing up into this anthropocentric world requires a range of competencies to address the issues of sustainability in an era of changing climate. The essential competencies that underpin the concept of "Agency in the Anthropocene" in PISA 2025, elements of which will be measured in the science assessment, include:

A range of abilities underpin each of these competencies, which are a mix of cognitive and non-cognitive elements.

Based on PISA 2018 results, in OECD countries, on average:

  • 79%

    of students reported they know about climate change and global warming

  • 88%

    of school principals reported that global warming and climate change were covered in the school curriculum

“Looking after the global environment is important to me”

  • 78%

    of students agreed or strongly agreed with the statement

Can students do something about global problems like climate change?

  • 57%

    thought they could do something about global problems

  • 44%

    thought their behaviour could impact people in other countries

Environmental science competencies

Explain the impact of human interactions with Earth's systems

A student who demonstrates this competency can:

  • Explain physical, living, and Earth’s systems that are relevant to the environment and how they interact with each other
  • Research and apply knowledge of human interactions with these systems over time
  • Apply this knowledge to explain both negative and positive human impacts with these systems over time
  • Explain how social, cultural, or economic factors contribute to these impacts

Elements of this competency are measured by Science Competency 1 (Explain phenomena scientifically). This competency requires both content and procedural knowledge.

Environmental science competencies

Make informed decisions to act based on evaluation of diverse sources of evidence and application of creative and systems thinking to regenerate and sustain the environment

A student who demonstrates this competency can:

  • Search for and evaluate evidence from diverse knowledge systems and sources
  • Evaluate and design potential solutions to social, environmental, and ecological issues using creative and systems thinking, taking into account implications for current and future generations
  • Engage, individually and collectively, in civic processes to make informed, consensual decisions
  • Set goals, collaborate with other young people and adults across generations, and act for regenerative and enduring socioecological change at a range of scales (local to global)

Elements of this competency are measured by Science Competency 2 (Construct and evaluate designs for scientific enquiry, and interpret scientific data and evidence critically) and Science Competency 3 (Research, evaluate, and use scientific information for decision making and action). This competency requires content, procedural, and epistemic knowledge.

Environmental science competencies

Demonstrate respect for diverse perspectives, and hope, in seeking solutions to socioecological crises

A student who demonstrates this competency can:

  • Evaluate actions drawing on an ethic of care for each other and all species based on a worldview where humans are part of the environment rather than separate from it (being ecocentric)
  • Acknowledge the many ways societies have created injustices and work to empower all people to contribute to community and ecosystem well-being
  • Exhibit resilience, hope, and efficacy, individually and collectively, in responding to socioecological crises
  • Respect diverse perspectives on issues and look for solutions to regenerate impacted communities and ecosystems

This competency contains elements that are measured by the concept of science identity, including epistemic beliefs; dispositions of care and concern towards other people, other species, and the planet; and feelings of efficacy and agency in addressing socioecological crises. This competency requires content, procedural, and epistemic knowledge.

Environmental science competencies

Agency in the Anthropocene

The environmental science competencies to be measured in PISA 2025 relate to the environmental-related outcomes of students’ science education, defined as “Agency in the Anthropocene”. 

Agency in the Anthropocene requires understanding that human impacts have already significantly altered Earth’s systems, and they continue to do so. It refers to ways of being and acting within the world that position people as part of (rather than separate from) ecosystems, acknowledging and respecting all species and the interdependence of life.

Young people with Anthropocene Agency:

  • believe that their actions will be appreciated, approved, and effective as they work to mitigate climate change, biodiversity loss, water scarcity, and other complex issues and crises
  • acknowledge the many ways societies may have created injustices and work to empower all people to contribute to community and ecosystem well-being
  • demonstrate hope, resilience, and efficacy in the face of crises that are both social and ecological
  • respect and evaluate multiple perspectives and diverse knowledge systems
  • engage with other young people and adults, across generations, in civic processes that lead to improved community well-being and sustainable futures
  • work individually and with others across a range of scales, from local to global, to understand and address complex challenges that face all beings in our communities

More about this can be read in OECD’s working paper, here.

Based on PISA 2018 results, students in OECD countries reported actively supporting environmental sustainability in their daily lives:

  • 71%

    reduce energy consumption at home by turning down the heating or air-conditioning

  • 46%

    read websites on international social issues

  • 45%

    choose certain products for ethical or environmental reasons, even if they are more expensive

  • 39%

    participate in activities in favour of environmental protection

  • 27%

    boycott products or companies for political, ethical, or environmental reasons

  • 25%

    sign environmental or social petitions online

Scientific knowledge

The three competencies developed by an education in science require three forms of knowledge:

People need all three forms of scientific knowledge to perform all three competencies, which are the focus of the PISA 2025 science framework.

Scientific knowledge

Content knowledge

Only a sample of the content domain of science can be assessed in the PISA 2025 science assessment. Knowledge to be assessed will be selected from the major fields of physics, chemistry, biology, Earth and space sciences, such that the knowledge:

  • has relevance to real-life situations
  • represents an important scientific concept or major explanatory theory that is well established and has enduring utility
  • is appropriate to the developmental level of 15-year-olds

The framework uses the term “systems”, instead of “sciences”, in the content knowledge descriptors, to convey the idea that citizens must understand concepts from the physical and life sciences, Earth and space sciences, and their application in contexts where the elements of knowledge are interdependent and interdisciplinary.

Use the arrows below to review the key content knowledge in detail.

Scientific knowledge

Procedural knowledge

One can think of procedural knowledge as being a knowledge of the standard procedures and practices scientists use to obtain reliable and valid data. Such knowledge is required both to undertake scientific enquiry and engage in critical review of the evidence that might be used to support claims made from the data.

Examples of procedural knowledge that may be tested include:

  • The concept of variables including dependent, independent, and control variables
  • Concepts of measurement (e.g., quantitative [measurements], qualitative [observations], the use of a scale, categorical and continuous variables)
  • Ways of assessing and minimizing uncertainty, such as repeating and averaging measurements
  • Mechanisms to ensure the precision (closeness of agreement between repeated measures of the same quantity), and accuracy of data (the closeness of agreement between a measured quantity and a true value of the measure)
  • Common ways of abstracting and representing data using tables, graphs, and charts, and their appropriate use
  • The control of variables strategy and its role in experimental design, or the use of randomized controlled trials to avoid confounded findings and identify possible causal mechanisms
  • Given a scientific question, what might be an appropriate design for its investigation (e.g., experimental, field-based or pattern seeking; the role of controls to establish causality)
  • What processes of peer vetting are used by the scientific community to ensure knowledge claims are trustworthy

Scientific knowledge

Epistemic knowledge

Epistemic knowledge is a knowledge of the constructs and defining features essential to the process of knowledge construction in science and their role in justifying the knowledge produced by science. As such, epistemic knowledge provides a rationale for the procedures and practices in which scientists engage, a knowledge of the structures and defining features which guide scientific enquiry, and the foundation for the basis of belief in the claims that science makes about the natural world. This involves the understanding of:

  • the nature of scientific observations, facts, hypotheses, models, and theories
  • the purpose and goals of science (to produce reliable explanations of the natural world and to predict future events) as distinguished from technology (to produce an optimal solution to human need)
  • the values of science (e.g., a commitment to peer review, objectivity, and the elimination of bias)

Epistemic knowledge is most likely to be tested in a pragmatic fashion in a context where a student is required to interpret and answer a question that requires some epistemic knowledge. For instance, students may be asked to identify whether the conclusions are justified by the data, or what piece of evidence best supports the hypothesis advanced in an item and explain why.

At its core, epistemic knowledge has four elements:

  • the role of models in science
  • the role of data and evidence in science
  • the nature of scientific reasoning
  • the collaborative and communal nature of scientific enquiry

Use the arrows below to review these key elements in detail.

Science identity

The inclusion of the identity construct as a major dimension for the PISA 2025 framework for science education is based on the principle that while scientific knowledge and competencies are important and valuable for young people’s futures, identity outcomes are also crucial for supporting agency and active citizenship in a rapidly changing world.

From a measurement perspective, the PISA 2025 assessment evaluates the following elements of science identity, which are considered to be important attributes of a scientifically educated individual:

Science capital constructs:
1. Epistemic beliefs – general values of science and scientific enquiry
2. Science capital (science-related knowledge, attitudes, dispositions, resources, behaviours, and social contacts)

Attitudinal constructs:
3. Science self-concept (sense of self in relation to science including future participation)
4. Science self-efficacy
5. Enjoyment of science
6. Instrumental motivation

Environmental constructs:
7. Environmental awareness
8. Environmental concern
9. Environmental agency

These constructs build into three main dimensions of identity:

  • Valuing scientific perspectives and approaches to enquiry
  • Affective elements of science identity
  • Environmental awareness, concern, and agency

Use the arrows below to review these dimensions in more detail.


PISA 2025 assesses competencies and knowledge in specific contexts that raise issues and choices that are relevant to science and environmental education. The contexts are not limited to school science contexts. Rather, the contexts are chosen based on the knowledge and understanding that 15-year-old students are likely to have acquired and considered relevant to students’ interests and lives. These contexts are generally consistent with the areas of application for scientific literacy in previous PISA frameworks.

The focus of assessment items is on situations relating to:

  • the self, family, and peer groups (personal)
  • the community (local and national)
  • life across the world (global)

Technology and environmentally-based topics may be used as a common context. Historical contexts may be used to assess students’ understanding of the processes and practices involved in advancing scientific knowledge. The applications of science and technology, within personal, local, national, and global settings that are primarily used as contexts for assessment items include:

  • health and disease
  • natural resources
  • environmental quality (including environmental impacts and climate change)
  • hazards
  • frontiers of science and technology (including contemporary advances and challenges)

Use the arrows below to review the contexts and associated applications in more detail.


Below are some example exercises from the PISA 2025 science assessment. Each button below opens an overlay that shows an example experience from the application.