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Lynch School of Education

Colloquia Newsletter

Worldwide study

center releases results of international math and science study

In December 2008, Boston College researchers released the results of the 2007 Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS). This study showed that 4th and 8th graders in Massachusetts outperformed their peers across the U.S. and ranked among the world’s elite nations in math and science achievement. Specifically, the results illustrated that Massachusetts 4th graders ranked 2nd worldwide in science achievement and 4th in mathematics in comparison to the other countries involved in the study. The state’s 8th graders ranked 3rd in the world in science and 6th in mathematics. Students from Asian countries led the rankings in math and science at both the 4th and 8th grade levels.

TIMSS 2007 is 4th in the cycle of internationally comparative assessments under the direction of Michael O. Martin and Ina V.S. Mullis of the TIMSS & PIRLS International Study Center. Executed every four years at the 4th and 8th grades, TIMSS is dedicated to improving teaching and learning in mathematics and science for students around the world. TIMSS 2007 is the largest study of student math and science achievement in the world with more than 60 countries participating and 425,000 students assessed. Each country sampled approximately 4,000 students in 150 schools.

Beyond benchmark comparisons in mathematics and science test scores at the middle or lower-secondary school level, TIMSS data provide a wealth of information regarding educational policies and practices around the world, as well as gender performance, home environment, curriculum and instructional approaches, and teacher preparation.

Among the 2007 study’s general findings, more countries showed improvement in 2007 than declines at the 4th grade level, in both mathematics and science. At the 8th grade level, close to a dozen countries showed improvements, but most showed little change or declined.

The study also found negligible differences in the achievement between boys and girls at the 4th grade math and science levels in half of the countries. However, 8th grade girls demonstrated higher achievement than boys, in more countries, especially in mathematics.

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