Designed to align broadly with the mathematics and science curricula in participating countries, TIMSS 2007 assessed the degree to which students had learned the mathematics and science concepts and skills likely to have been taught in school. The study also measured trends in achievement for the countries that had participated in previous TIMSS cycles (2003, 1999 and 1995). As in the previous 2003 cycle, the TIMSS 2007 assessment emphasized certain questions and tasks that would offer insight into the analytical, problem-solving, and inquiry abilities of students. In addition, student, teacher, and school questionnaires provided information about the contexts for learning mathematics and science, to aid in interpreting the achievement results and tracking changes in instructional practices. The main data collection was conducted in 2006–2007.
The TIMSS & PIRLS International Study Center at the Lynch School of Education, Boston College, United States, served as the international study center for TIMSS 2007, working in close cooperation with the IEA, and the national centers of participating countries.
For more information, including in-depth reports and analyses, please visit the TIMSS 2007 website.
Two target populations were included in the study: fourth grade and eighth grade students.
Algeria, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Bahrain, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Botswana, Bulgaria, Canada (Alberta, British Columbia, Ontario, and Quebec), Chinese Taipei, Colombia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Egypt, El Salvador, England, Georgia, Germany, Ghana, Hong Kong SAR, Hungary, Indonesia, Iran, Israel, Italy, Japan, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Korea, Kuwait, Latvia, Lebanon, Lithuania, Malaysia, Malta, Mongolia, Morocco, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Oman, Palestinian National Authority, Qatar, Romania, Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia, Scotland, Serbia, Singapore, Slovak Republic, Slovenia, Spain (Basque Country), Sweden, Syria, Thailand, Tunisia, Turkey, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates (Dubai), United States (with Massachusetts and Minnesota as benchmarking systems), and Yemen.
Student Achievement in Mathematics and Science
Asian countries had the highest percentages of students reaching the Advanced International Benchmarks for mathematics and science, representing fluency on items involving the most complex topics and reasoning skills.
In mathematics, about 40% of fourth grade students in Singapore and Hong Kong SAR and 45% to 40% of eighth grade students in Chinese Taipei, Korea, and Singapore achieved at or above the Advanced International Benchmark. The median percentage of students reaching this benchmark was 5% at the fourth grade and 2% at the eighth grade.
In science, the highest performing countries at the fourth grade—Singapore and Chinese Taipei—had 36% and 19% of their students, respectively, achieving at or above the Advanced International Benchmark. At the eighth grade, Singapore and Chinese Taipei had 32% and 25% of their students, respectively, achieving at or above the Advanced International Benchmark. The median percentage of students reaching this benchmark was 7% at the fourth grade and 3% at the eighth grade.
In mathematics and science, more countries showed improvement in average achievement between their first cycle of participation and TIMSS 2007 than declines at the fourth grade. At the eighth grade, the pattern was less pronounced. Although close to a dozen countries showed improvement, most countries either showed little change or declined.
At the fourth grade, gender differences in achievement were negligible in roughly half of the participating countries in both mathematics and science. In the remaining countries, girls had higher achievement in about half and boys had higher achievement in the other half. At the eighth grade, on average across the participating countries, girls had higher achievement than boys in both mathematics and science.
Students' Background and Attitudes
Across both subject areas and grade levels, students who reported always or almost always speaking the language of the test at home had higher average achievement. At the eighth grade, parents' educational level was positively associated with students' mathematics and science achievement in almost all countries.
At both grades, students who had more positive attitudes toward mathematics and science, who reported a higher level of self-confidence in learning these subjects, and who placed a higher value on them as important to future success also had higher achievement in mathematics and science.
At both the fourth and eighth grades, average achievement in mathematics and science was highest among students whose principals and teachers had a positive view of the school climate (including high levels of teacher job satisfaction, high expectations for student achievement, and parental support). Achievement was also highest among students who attended schools with more than 90% of students having the language of the test as their native language, and where school principals reported few attendance problems or resource shortages. There was a positive association between achievement and students' perceptions of being safe in school.
At both the fourth and eighth grades, the majority of students were taught mathematics and science by teachers in their 30s and 40s. Although about one fourth of the students internationally were taught by teachers age 50 or older, relatively few students were taught by teachers younger than 30 years.
Most countries reported having a national curriculum in mathematics and science, and that teachers received specific preparation in how to teach it as part of their pre-service education.
At the eighth grade, most students were taught by teachers who had studied mathematics or science and reported feeling very well prepared to teach the topics in the TIMSS assessment. In contrast, teachers at the fourth grade reported little specific training or specialized education, especially in science. Only half the students had teachers who reported feeling very well prepared to teach the TIMSS science topics.
For more information, please contact the TIMSS & PIRLS International Study Center.