U.S. Improving in Math and Science, According to New Reports
TIMSS and PIRL Explained
According to The New York Times, these findings were based on results of the 2011 TIMSS, Trends in International Math and Science Study, and PIRLS, Progress in International Reading Literacy Study. Developed by the International Study Center at Boston College, the tests are administered to random samples of fourth and eighth graders in 63 countries, for the TIMSS, and 49 countries, for the PIRLS.
While the United States still lags behind East Asian countries in math and science, fourth-grade reading scores are near the top. The United States scored sixth in fourth-grade reading, with Florida at the top of the states. In the top spots were Hong Kong and Russia.
The United States came in at 11th for fourth-grade math and ninth for eighth-grade math. The top scorers for fourth- and eighth-grade math were South Korea and Singapore. Of particular concern was that only 7 percent of American eighth graders scored at the advanced level in math, while 48 percent of Singapore’s and 47 percent of South Korea’s students scored in that range.
For fourth-grade science, the United States was in seventh place and held 10th place for eighth-grade science. The top eighth-grade science scores belonged to Singapore and Taiwan.
Contributing Factors to Success
The New York Times pointed out that while Finland, which does not test students frequently, outperformed the United States, so did countries that test students often. Part of the exams involved having parents fill out questionnaires on their involvement in their children’s education before formal school began. There was a high correlation between student academic achievement and parental involvement. Students who attended preschool also had higher test scores.
The Huffington Post reported that while the findings are encouraging, of great concern is that American scores in the above-average range decrease significantly with age. U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said that this decrease is “unacceptable.” Poorer students also continue to be at a disadvantage. Claus von Zastrow, COO of Change the Equation, a D.C. advocacy group for math and science success, said, "They were holding even with the international average in some grade levels, fourth grade, but in eighth grade, they've dropped below. It means they're getting less competitive as they're going through the school system, and that's a tragic story."
TIMSS vs. PISA
Education Week encourages the public to remain objective regarding the TIMSS and PIRLS scores, which have dramatically different results than the PISA administered only two years prior. The PISA specifically tests 15-year-olds in industrialized nations, while the TIMSS tests fourth and eighth graders in industrialized and less-developed nations, affecting the scores considerably.
Sign up for Teach.com’s monthly newsletter to receive the latest in education news and information about becoming a teacher, including certification, teaching programs and more!
YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE
If you teach English as a Second Language (ESL) there are a plethora of resources on the Internet for curriculum development, job seeking, and connecting with other educators. One of the most popular web resources, by and large, is Dave's ESL Cafe, a free resource for ESL and EFL (English as a Foreign Language) teachers all over the world.
Started in 1995 by Los Angeles multimedia consultant Dave Sperling, the site attracts millions of hits monthly. Having spent almost a decade teaching in Thailand and Japan before becoming a published author and multimedia consultant, Sperling strives to connect both teachers and students all over the globe. His site offers job postings, lesson-planning materials and discussion forums, among other resources. Here are some ways in which educators can take advantage of this useful site:
YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE
This blog was originally published on Finding Common Ground at Education Week by Peter DeWitt on December 30, 2012 9:35 A.M.
Every now and then we pick up books that help us find our way out of the box we have been living in. Some people read all year long. Others read in pockets of time throughout the year.
Which kind of reader are you?
I read mostly articles and blogs but I am always looking for a good book. As much as we may go searching for them, some of the best books find us. Ov…
YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE
While foreign language instruction has been around for decades as part of public school curriculums, it has predominantly been taught at the secondary school levels. According toEducation Week, 91 percent of public schools offer foreign language instruction at the high school level, with only about 58 percent of middle schools and 25 percent of elementary schools offering foreign language instruction. But recently, more public schools have been striving to offer foreign language instructio…