FYI: The AIP Bulletin of Science Policy News

US, International TIMSS Scores Released

Rob Boisseau
Number 121 - December 22, 2008  |  Search FYI  |   FYI Archives  |   Subscribe to FYI

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The 2007 Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) report has been released, and the results are decidedly mixed.  While average United States math scores have risen from 1995 levels, average science scores have stagnated.  Moreover, the US continues to lag behind a number of European and Asian nations.

Last year’s TIMSS test was the fourth since 1995 as developed by the International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement (IEA).  Comprised of national research institutions and government research agencies from around the world, IEA designs TIMSS assessments for fourth and eighth graders.  In the US, the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), in the Institute of Education Sciences at the Department of Education oversees TIMSS assessments.

In 2007, 10,350 fourth graders at 257 schools, and 9,723 eighth graders at 239 schools completed the TIMSS assessments.  The average fourth grade math score (529) was above the TIMSS scale average (500) and higher than the 1995 fourth grade math average (518).

Similar to what FYI has reported in previous years, the average fourth grade science score (539) remains higher than the TIMSS scale average (500), but shows little growth in terms of previous years.  In fact, the fourth grade science score average in 1995 was three points higher at 542.

The eighth grade math average (508) is both higher than the TIMSS scale average (500) and the 1995 math average (492).  US eighth graders averaged (520) higher than their predecessors in 1995 (513) in science, but as FYI first reported here in 2000 eighth graders continue to perform comparatively below fourth graders.

In the 2007 round of TIMSS testing, 35 other nations participated at the fourth grade math and science level, and 47 other nations participated in both subjects at the eighth grade level.

Average fourth and eighth grade US math scores rank among the top third of nations participating.  Nations with an average fourth grade math score significantly higher than the US were Hong Kong (607), Singapore (599), Chinese Taipei (576), Japan (568), Kazakhstan (549), Russian Federation (544), England (541), and Latvia (537).  Nations not measurably different than the US average included the Netherlands (535), and Germany (525).

Nations with a significantly higher average eighth grade math score were Chinese Taipei (598), Republic of Korea (597), Singapore (593), Hong Kong (572), and Japan (570).  Those nations not measurably different than the US included England (513), and the Russian Federation (512).

Average fourth and eighth grade US science scores rank among the top quarter of nations participating.  Nations with a significantly higher average fourth grade science score were Singapore (587), Chinese Taipei (557), Hong Kong (554), and Japan (548).  Nations with an average fourth grade science score similar to the US included the Russian Federation (546), England (542), and Italy (535)

Nations with average eighth grade science scores significantly higher than the US were Singapore (567), Chinese Taipei (561), Japan (554), Republic of Korea (553), England (542), Hungary (539), Czech Republic (539), Slovenia (538), and the Russian Federation (530).  Not measurably different than the US included Hong Kong (530), and Australia (515).

TIMSS assessments will next be administered in 2011.

Rob Boisseau
Media and Government Relations Division
American Institute of Physics
rboissea@aip.org
301-209-3094