December 19, 2012: California's 89th graders rank in the middle of the pack in math and science, based on Trends in International Mathmatics and Science Study (TIMSS). According to Susan Frey writing for EdSource, the TIMSS (which is sponsored by the Institute of Education Sciences) are tests that were taken last year by a random group of students from 56 countries and education systems; nine states and Canadian provinces.
Eighth graders in California had below-average scores in both subjects. The international average on math was 500 (possible 1,000 perfect score); California's average was 493, resulting in a rank of 26th out of 56 education systems. In science California's 8th graders earned 499/1,000, for a rank of 29/56.
Other states that participated in the study included, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Indiana, Massachusetts, Minnesota, North Carolina and Alabama. With the exception of Alabama, all of the other states' students ranked higher in both math and science.
By contrast, U.S. 8th graders scored above average on both tests, ranking 9th in math and 10th in science compared with other countries. South Korean 8th graders had the top score (613) in math, and Singapore 8th graders led in science, with a score of 590. Countries with 8th graders who outscored both the U.S. and California students in both math and science included South Korea, Singapore, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Japan, Russia and Finland.
Only 7 percent of U.S. and 5 percent of California 8th graders reached the advanced level in math. Although these percentages were higher than the median, the United States lagged far behind some Asian nations. For example, 48 percent of Singapore’s students reached that level, as did 47 percent of South Korean test takers.
California teachers and students already feel the pressure of meeting goals for standardized tests; with results such as these, that stress may increase.
Written by: Taylor McCulloch