APS News

February 2005 (Volume 14, Number 2)

Mixed Results for U.S. Students in International Comparisons

The results of the 2003 Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) were released on December 14, 2004. US students continue to score significantly above the international averages in both math and science. The results suggest that US eighth-graders have made strides in both subjects over the last eight years, but that US fourth-graders' performance has stagnated. In another international comparison, US 15-year-olds did not measure up to the international average in mathematics literacy and problem-solving skills.

The TIMSS assessments are carried out by the International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement (IEA), and the first assessment was conducted in 1995. Follow-up studies are conducted every four years, providing an ongoing source of international comparison.

The 2003 assessment tested fourth- and eighth-graders in mathematics and science. More than 360,000 students in 49 countries participated in the 2003 study. Students from Singapore outperformed students from all other countries in both math and science, at both grade levels.

US eighth-graders scored better in both science and math than in previous assessments. Gains in math occurred primarily between 1995 and 1999, with the greatest gains in science occurring between 1999 and 2003.

In science, US fourth-graders were outperformed by their peers in five countries and regions. In math, fourth-graders from the US were outperformed by their peers in 11 countries and regions.

The 2003 assessment also found that, in almost all countries, higher parental education levels were associated with higher student achievement.

Another international comparison of students, the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA), showed US 15-year-olds performing below the international average of participating countries in an assessment of mathematical literacy and problem-solving.

Highlights of the TIMSS and PISA studies are available at http://nces.ed.gov.

Excerpted from FYI, The American Institute of Physics Bulletin of Science Policy News (http://aip.org/fyi/)

APS encourages the redistribution of the materials included in this newspaper provided that attribution to the source is noted and the materials are not truncated or changed.

Editor: Alan Chodos
Associate Editor: Jennifer Ouellette

February 2005 (Volume 14, Number 2)

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Articles in this Issue
World Year of Physics Opens with Paris Conference
Eight Fellows Reach Back to the '30s and '40s
Sixteen "Physics on the Road" Teams Selected for World Year of Physics
Mixed Results for U.S. Students in International Comparisons
The Back Page
Members in the Media
This Month in Physics History
Physics and Technology Forefronts
Washington Dispatch
Zero Gravity: The Lighter Side of Science