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Asian students top latest global math, science

Students from Asian countries were top performers in math and science at both the fourth and eighth grade levels, according to the most recent reports of the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS), released by the study’s directors Michael O. Martin and Ina V.S. Mullis of Boston College.

In mathematics, at the fourth grade level, Hong Kong SAR and Singapore were the top performing countries, followed by Chinese Taipei and Japan. Kazakhstan, the Russian Federation, England, Latvia, and the Netherlands also performed very well. In mathematics achievement at the eighth grade, Chinese Taipei, Korea, and Singapore were followed by Hong Kong SAR and Japan. There was a substantial gap in average mathematics achievement between the five Asian countries and the next group of four similarly performing countries, including Hungary, England, the Russian Federation, and the United States.

In science, students from Singapore and Chinese Taipei were top performers at both grade levels. In science achievement at the fourth grade, Singapore was the top performing country, followed by Chinese Taipei and Hong Kong SAR. Japan, the Russian Federation, Latvia, England, the United States, Hungary, Italy, and Kazakhstan also performed very well. At the eighth grade in science, Singapore and Chinese Taipei again had the highest average achievement, followed by Japan and Korea. England, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Slovenia, Hong Kong SAR, and the Russian Federation also performed well. [Note: Full charts at end of release.]

TIMSS is one of the world’s most influential global assessments of student achievement in math and science. With more than 60 participants and 425,000 students assessed, TIMSS 2007 also is the largest study of student math and science achievement in the world. Each country sampled approximately 4,000 students in 150 schools. [Note: a list of participating countries is at the end of this release.]

The TIMSS 2007 report also provides data at the fourth and eighth grades for those countries that also participated in TIMSS 1995, 1999 and 2003.

“One of the great strengths of TIMSS is the ability to monitor progress in educational improvement over time,” said TIMSS Directors Michael O. Martin and Ina V.S. Mullis of Boston College. “Such trend information is crucial in helping policy makers understand the impact of decisions about investment in education, curricular reform, and initiatives to improve instruction.”

As with previous TIMSS reports, TIMSS 2007 data provide invaluable international benchmarks that can be used to help define world-class performance in mathematics and science at the middle or lower-secondary school level. Beyond comparisons in mathematics and science test scores, they said, the reports provide a wealth of information on educational policies and practices around the world, as well as on gender performance, home environment, curriculum and instructional approaches and teacher preparation in math and science.

ABOUT TIMSS

TIMSS, the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study, is the largest assessment of international student achievement in the world and was the first to provide data about trends in math and science achievement over time.

TIMSS is a project of the International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement (IEA) headquartered in Amsterdam, and is directed by the TIMSS & PIRLS International Study Center at Boston College in collaboration with a worldwide network of organizations and representatives from the participating countries.

TIMSS 2007 is the fourth in a continuing cycle of international mathematics and science assessments conducted every four years. TIMSS assesses achievement in countries around the world and collects a rich array of information about the educational contexts for learning mathematics and science.

The TIMSS 2007 report involved more than 60 participants: it contains science results for 37 countries and 7 benchmarking participants at the fourth grade and for 50 countries and 7 benchmarking participants at the eighth grade. Each country sampled approximately 4,000 students in 150 schools. Trend data are provided at the fourth and eighth grades for those countries that also participated in 1995, 1999, and 2003.

To inform educational policy in the participating countries, TIMSS also routinely collects extensive background information that addresses concerns about the quantity, quality and content of instruction. TIMSS 2007 offers detailed information about mathematics and science curriculum coverage and implementation, as well as teacher preparation, resource availability and the use of technology.
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