NC vs. the world: Results from TIMSS
By Dr. Terry Stoops
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TIMSS are not people, they are tests!
Results from the 2011 TIMSS (Trends In International Mathematics
and Science Study) have been released. Last year, North Carolina was one of 14 "benchmarking
entities" to participate.
So, how did the Tar Heel State
compare to the 63 countries and fellow benchmarking entities that had a sample
of fourth- and eighth-grade students take TIMSS tests? Obviously, you will have to read the
CommenTerry to find out.
- The North Carolina History Project would like educators and
homeschool parents to submit lesson plans suitable for middle and high school
courses in North Carolina history.
Please provide links to N.C. History Project encyclopedia articles and
other primary and secondary source material, if possible. Go to the N.C. History Project website for further information.
- I would like to invite
all readers to submit announcements, as well as their personal insights,
anecdotes, concerns, and observations about the state of education in North
Carolina. Beginning in January 2013, I will publish selected submissions in
future editions of the newsletter. Anonymity will be honored. For additional
information or to send a submission, email Terry at [email protected].
- Yes. Santa has
visited the research
newsletter archive...multiple times.
North Carolina was one of a handful of U.S. states to
participate in TIMSS (Trends
In International Mathematics and Science Study) testing of fourth- and
eighth-grade students from around the world.
In the TIMSS study, North Carolina fared well. In fourth-grade math, North Carolina scored
higher than samples of students from 50 other nations, states, and territories
including England, Russia, the Netherlands, Germany, and the United
States. North Carolina's scores were
comparable to Northern Ireland, Belgium, Finland, and a strange land called Florida. Unfortunately, our state scored lower than all
of the representative nations from the Pacific Rim -- Singapore, South Korea,
Hong Kong SAR, Chinese Taipei, and Japan.
In eighth-grade math, North Carolina ranked behind
Massachusetts and Minnesota, two states that did not have students participate
in the fourth-grade assessment. North
Carolina scored higher than 48 nations on the eighth-grade math test and had a
score that was comparable to Russia, Minnesota, Quebec, and Indiana. Again, our state had lower scores than South
Korea, Singapore, Chinese Taipei, Hong Kong SAR, and Japan. In addition, Massachusetts outperformed North
Carolina on the eighth-grade test.
In fourth-grade science, South Korea, Singapore, Finland,
Japan, Russia, and Chinese Taipei outperformed North Carolina. Our state's scores were comparable to 15
other nations and were higher than 39 nations, states, and territories. Similarly, North Carolina scored lower than
Singapore, Chinese Taipei, South Korea, Japan, Finland, Massachusetts,
Minnesota, and Alberta, Canada in eighth-grade science. North Carolina had scores that were
comparable to 14 countries. Thirty-seven
participants could not compete with eighth-graders from the Tar Heel state.
TIMSS math results confirm what we have known for
years. Math instruction in North
Carolina continues to produce superior results on standardized tests. Since 2000, our state's fourth- and
eighth-grade NAEP (National Assessment of Educational Progress) math scores
have exceeded the national average.
Although the gap has narrowed in recent years, North Carolina's
fourth-grade students scored four points higher than the national average in
2011, while eighth-grade students had a two-point advantage. Unfortunately, it is not possible to examine
long-term trends in science performance.
NAEP began administering science tests to states in 2009.
Before we get too excited about the number of countries that
North Carolina outperformed, it is necessary to acknowledge that participating
countries included nations like Kazakhstan, Malta, Croatia, Azerbaijan, Armenia,
Bahrain, Oman, and Yemen. Mecklenburg
County alone has more than twice the population of Malta. And I'll take a box of Bojangles' chicken
over fenek moqli any day.
North Carolina has participated in the TIMSS math and
science tests once before. North
Carolina's science score rose by 24 points between 1999 and 2011. Our state scored a relatively low 495 on the 1999
eighth-grade math test. It was so low
that even Malaysia had a higher math score in that year. In 2011, North Carolina's average score was
537, a 42-point increase from twelve years prior. And, yes, we exacted revenge on those Malaysians,
who had an astounding 79-point drop between 1999 and 2011!
The most important thing to remember is that we do not know
why eighth-grade math and science scores increased from 1999 to 2011 or, for
that matter, why fourth- and eighth-grade scores were higher than most
participating countries, states, and territories. Over the next few weeks, we'll hear left-wing
pundits attribute the scores to "investments" in pre-K, numerous
state programs, and increases in teacher pay.
There is no evidence that any government expenditure or initiative deserves
Similarly, there may be a temptation from those on the Right
to credit the increase in scores to the expansion of charter schools, school
choice generally, residual effects from No Child Left Behind, and the
like. Don't go there. Instead, challenge those who do to produce
evidence to that back their foolish claims.
SpongeBob SquarePants was right. Don't
be a jerk. It's Christmas.
Facts and Stats
Countries Participating in
Hong Kong SAR
Iran, Islamic Rep. of
Korea, Rep. of
Palestinian Nat'l Auth.
Syrian Arab Republic
United Arab Emirates
Abu Dhabi, UAE
North Carolina, USA
Education Acronym of the Week
TIMSS - Trends In International Mathematics and Science
Quotes of the Week
"East Asian countries continue to lead the world in mathematics
achievement. Singapore, Korea, and Hong Kong SAR, followed by Chinese Taipei
and Japan, were the top performing countries at the fourth grade. Similarly, at
the eighth grade, Korea, Singapore, and Chinese Taipei outperformed all other
countries, followed by Hong Kong SAR and Japan."
- Ina V.S. Mullis, Michael O. Martin, Pierre Foy, and
Alka Arora, "TIMSS 2011 International Results in Mathematics," p. 21
"Korea and Singapore
were the top-performing countries in science in TIMSS 2011 at the fourth grade,
followed by Finland, Japan, the Russian Federation, and Chinese Taipei. At the
eighth grade, Singapore had the highest average achievement. The next highest
performing countries -- Korea, Chinese Taipei, and Japan -- had higher
achievement than all other countries except Singapore. Finland was the next
- Michael O. Martin, Ina V.S. Mullis, Pierre Foy, and
Gabrielle M. Stanco, "TIMSS 2011 International Results in Science,"
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