Blog from Dec 10, 2008

Trends in International Maths and Science Study

This study, done every four years by Boston College, was released yesterday. There's a lot to digest but the headline seems to be that England and the USA have risen up the rankings significantly. So too have Hungary, Russia and Lithuania. In Maths, England took 7th place amongst Year Nines (14 year olds) compared with 24th place (as the UK) amongst 15 year olds in the 2006 Pisa rankings (an OECD report into 15 year olds), while the USA took 9th place, which compares with 35th place in Pisa. They've also risen when compared with Tims 2003.

Problem with comparing Pisa and Tims though is that lots of countries who participate in Pisa don't participate in Tims. Of the 23 countries that finished above the UK in Pisa, 15 didn't participate in Tims, so the 7th place is a bit misleading. Finland, the Netherlands and Canada, who all fared well in Pisa, either didn't participate in Tims or, in the Netherlands case, did so only at Grade 4 level.

MATHS

MATHS

SCIENCE

SCIENCE

 Grade 4

Grade 8

Grade 4

Grade 8

Hong Kong

Taipei

Singapore

Singapore

Singapore

South Korea

Taipei

Taipei

Taipei

Singapore

Hong Kong

Japan

Japan

Hong Kong

Japan

South Korea

Kazakhstan

Japan

Russia

England

Russia

Hungary

Latvia

Hungary

England

England

England

Czech Republic

Latvia

Russia

USA

Slovenia

Netherlands

USA

Hungary

Hong Kong

Lithuania

Lithuania

Italy

Russia

 

 

 

 

South Korea didn't participate in the Grade 4 tests. The USA were 11th in Grade 4 Maths and Grade 8 Science. 

I've not bothered to include the actual scores, but when you do, it's clear that the Pacific Rim countries of Hong Kong, Singapore, Taipei, Japan and South Korea are in a league of their own when it comes to Maths, with a yawning gap between them and the top European countries. Maybe it's just because they're better at tests than anyone else. I wonder how much Tims and Pisa are just a test of how good a country's children are at doing tests they're not used to.