Mathematics Benchmarking Report TIMSS 1999–Eighth Grade




CHAPTER 2: Performance at International Benchmarks

Achievement at the Lower Quarter Benchmark

As shown in Exhibit 2.16, the few items anchoring at the Lower Quarter Benchmark provided evidence that students performing at this level can add, subtract, and round with whole numbers. For example, students answering Example Item 13 correctly rounded 691 and 208 to estimate their sum as close to the sum of 700 and 200 (see Exhibit 2.17). The international average was 80 percent correct, and 27 countries had three-quarters or more of their students choosing the correct answer. In four countries – Singapore, Belgium (Flemish), Japan, and the Netherlands – 95 percent or more of the students gave the correct response. That level of performance was attained by students in twelve Benchmarking entities: Naperville, Indiana, the Michigan Invitational Group, the Southwest Pennsylvania Math and Science Collaborative, Montgomery County, the Project SMART Consortium, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Missouri, Texas, and the First in the World Consortium. Again, the Benchmarking participants did comparatively well on this rounding item. In all, students in every Benchmarking entity except the Miami-Dade County Public Schools achieved significantly above the international average.

As illustrated by Example Item 14 in Exhibit 2.18, students at the Lower Quarter Benchmark generally could subtract one three-decimal-place number from another with multiple regrouping. Internationally on average, 77 percent of the eighth-grade students selected the correct response to this item. Students in Texas (89 percent) performed significantly above the international average and similarly to students in Singapore, Korea, and the Russian Federation (88 to 90 percent). All of the other Benchmarking participants performed near the international average except the Michigan Invitational Group (60 percent), whose students performed below it.

Students at this level could subtract one four-digit integer from another involving multiple regrouping with zeroes (see Example Item 15 in Exhibit 2.19). On this subtraction item also, students in Texas (90 percent) performed similarly to those in Singapore, Chinese Taipei, and Hong Kong (90 to 92 percent). Students in the Naperville School District (88 percent), the Academy School District (84 percent), and Massachusetts (82 percent) also performed significantly above the international average of 74 percent.

In addition, Example Item 16 in Exhibit 2.20 shows that students at this level could read a thermometer and locate the correct reading in a table. Internationally on average, 79 percent of students answered the item correctly. Students in the Benchmarking entities performed comparatively well on this question. Sixteen of the Benchmarking participants performed significantly above the international average and none below it. Essentially all of the students in Naperville (99 percent) responded correctly, and 90 percent or more did so in First in the World, the Academy School District, Illinois, Project SMART, Indiana, the Southwest Pennsylvania Math and Science Collaborative, and Massachusetts.

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