Mathematics Benchmarking Report TIMSS 1999–Eighth Grade




CHAPTER 2: Performance at International Benchmarks

Achievement at the Median Benchmark

Students at the Median Benchmark demonstrated the ability to apply basic mathematical knowledge in straightforward situations (see Exhibit 2.12). For example, as shown by Example Item 10 in Exhibit 2.13, students showed that they understand rounding and can use it to estimate the results of computations. Given the number of rows of cars in a parking lot and the number of cars in each row, students chose the number sentence that would give the best estimate of the total number of cars. While students at the Lower Quarter Benchmark rounded to the nearest hundred, students at the Median Benchmark successfully rounded numbers to get the best estimate for a product. Moreover, middle-performing students demonstrated greater competence with word problems than did those at the Lower Quarter Benchmark. The Benchmarking participants performed particularly well on this test question involving rounding. The international average percent correct for this item was 65 percent, and all except five Benchmarking entities performed significantly above the international average. Among the high-achieving countries, Singapore outperformed other countries with 94 percent correct, followed by 85 percent in Hong Kong. More than 85 percent of students answered correctly in Naperville, the First in the World Consortium, Guilford County, the Academy School District, the Southwest Pennsylvania Math and Science Collaborative, Indiana, North Carolina, and Connecticut.

In geometry, students at the Median Benchmark were able to locate a point on a grid with five-unit divisions that lies between the grid lines (see Example Item 11 in Exhibit 2.14). Fifty-eight percent of students on average internationally correctly chose Point S as the point on the grid that could have the coordinates (7,16). In Japan, Korea, Chinese Taipei, Hong Kong, and Singapore, 80 percent or more of the students answered correctly, as did students in Naperville and First in the World. Generally, the Benchmarking participants performed relatively well on this question, with 13 of them performing significantly above the international average. As might be anticipated, students answering incorrectly most commonly chose Point Q (16,7).

Example Item 12 shown in Exhibit 2.15 illustrates students’ emerging familiarity with algebraic representation. Internationally on average, nearly two-thirds of students correctly identified the linear equation corresponding to a given verbal statement involving a variable. In Hong Kong, Singapore, Japan, and Korea, 85 percent or more of the students answered correctly, and eighth graders in several Benchmarking districts and consortia performed similarly. Naperville (94 percent) topped the chart on this item, and 85 percent or more of the students in the First in the World Consortium, Montgomery County, and the Academy School District answered correctly.

next section >

Click here to return to the ISC homepage

TIMSS 1999 is a project of the International Study Center
Boston College, Lynch School of Education