Mathematics Benchmarking Report TIMSS 1999–Eighth Grade




CHAPTER 3: Average Achievement in the Mathematics Content Areas

How Does Achievement Differ Across Mathematics Content Areas?

Exhibit 3.1 presents average achievement in each of the five mathematics content areas for the Benchmarking states, districts, and consortia. The Benchmarking jurisdictions as well as selected reference countries are displayed in decreasing order of achievement for each content area, and symbols indicate whether performance is statistically significantly above or below the international average for all of the countries that participated in TIMSS 1999. To allow comparison of the relative performance of each country in each content area, the international average for each content area was scaled to be 487, the same as the overall international average.

The six countries scoring highest in the overall mathematics assessment – Singapore, Korea, Chinese Taipei, Hong Kong, Japan, and Belgium (Flemish) – were also the highest-scoring countries (though not always in the same rank order) in each content area. Correspondingly, the Naperville School District and the First in World Consortium were the highest-scoring Benchmarking entities, performing significantly above the international average, and generally about the same as Belgium (Flemish), in each area.

In contrast to the consistent performance across content areas displayed by the highest-performing entities, performance varied substantially for some middle-performing entities, including the United States. The United States performed significantly above the international average in fractions and number sense; data representation, analysis, and probability; and algebra. In contrast, however, it performed similarly to the international average in measurement and geometry. The same pattern occurred in several of the Benchmarking jurisdictions, including the Project SMART Consortium, Texas, Indiana, Michigan, the Southwest Pennsylvania Math and Science Collaborative, Massachusetts, Oregon, and Guilford County. Montgomery County, the Michigan Invitational Group, and the Academy School District performed above the international average in measurement as well as in the three areas in which the U.S. did relatively well, but like the U.S. performed only at the international average in geometry. Although students in Pennsylvania and Illinois performed above the international average in fractions and number sense as well as in algebra, they performed similarly to the international average in the other three areas.

Exhibits B.1 through B.5 in Appendix B compare average achievement among individual entities for each of the content areas. The exhibits show whether or not the differences in average achievement between pairs of participating entities are statistically significant.

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