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U.S. students better in math, science, but still lag Asians

  • 10 December 2008
  • Written by 
  • Published in Biology
The Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) is a test of knowledge and skills of fourth- and eight-grade students from around the world. The United States is doing better, but still not as good as the leaders: students in Asia.


The website of the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) (a part of the Institute of Education Science (IES) and the larger U.S. Department of Education) states, “The Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) 2007 is the fourth administration of this international comparison since the 1995 initial administration.”

The TIMSS compares mathematics and science knowledge and skills of fourth-grader and eighth-grader students over time. It is designed to give an accurate assessment of the mathematics and science curricula in the different countries whose students are taking the test.

The latest results were announced on Tuesday, December 9, 2008.

In 2007, fourth- and eighth-grader students from fifty-eight countries and educational jurisdictions participated in TIMSS. Specifically, students from 48 countries took part in the eight-grade portion of the test, and students from 36 countries took the fourth-grade test.

Together, around 425,000 students were tested worldwide.

You can download the report (pdf file) at: Highlights From TIMSS 2007 (Mathematics and Science Achievement of U.S. Fourth- and Eighth-Grade Students in an International Context).

MATH

Fourth-graders in the United States scored a 529 for the mathematics portion of the test. The average for all fourth-grade students around the world was 500.

More stats on page two.




The United States were equals to the students in the countries of Denmark, Germany, and the Netherlands. However, U.S. fourth-grade students still do worse than fourth-graders in Japan, Hong Kong, Singapore, England, and Russia.

The 2007 score for four-grade students in the United States increased by eleven (11) points over their 2003 score.

Eight-grade students from the United States also scored above the international average in mathematics. Their score was comparable to students from England, Russia, the Czech Republic, and Hungary.

However, the score was still below several Asian countries. Their score was sixteen (16) points higher than what it was in 1995.

SCIENCE

In science, U.S. fourth-graders scored a 549, which was 49 points above the international average of (yes) 500. It was below the scores of students from Taipei, Hong Kong, Japan, and Singapore.

U.S. eighth-graders scored a 520, which was also above the international average for students in science.

The scores for U.S. students is counter from what most Americans think its students are doing in math and science. Most of the public believes that U.S. children are worsening in math and science when compared with the rest of the developed world.

This study says that this is not so. Please read page three for comments from one of its authors.




In fact, Boston College research professor Ina V.S. Mullis, one of the authors of the study, stated, “Certainly, our results do not show the United States trailing the developed world by any stretch of the imagination.” [The Associated Press: “Study: US students score higher in math”]

"The Asian countries are way ahead of the rest of developed countries, but mostly the developed countries are relatively similar."

"And the United States might be one of the leaders of that group, depending on whether you're talking about math or science in the fourth or the eighth grade."


Mullis added, "The Asian countries are way ahead of the rest of developed countries, but mostly the developed countries are relatively similar."

"And the United States might be one of the leaders of that group, depending on whether you're talking about math or science in the fourth or the eighth grade."


You can test yourself—and compare yourself in the fields of science, math, civics, economics, geography, and history with fourth- and eighth-grade level questions.

If you dare to compare, go to the NCES website “Dare to Compare.”

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