Mathematics Benchmarking Report TIMSS 1999–Eighth Grade
Chapter 5 Contents



What Mathematics Content Do Teachers Emphasize at the Eighth Grade?


What Can Be Learned About the Mathematics Curriculum?




© 2001 International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement (IEA)




CHAPTER 5: The Mathematics Curriculum

What Can Be Learned About the Mathematics Curriculum?

In contrast to the United States, most countries around the world have well-established, centrally-mandated national curricula. Recently, however, states and districts in the U.S. have been making great strides in establishing content standards and curriculum frameworks to guide curriculum implementation in schools. Furthermore, many education systems in the U.S. have begun to assess whether the intended curriculum in mathematics is being attained or learned by their students.

Although effort has been made to develop rigorous curriculum standards, the intended mathematics curriculum in the United States overall and in many Benchmarking jurisdictions does not seem as advanced or focused as that in other countries. Students in the U.S. are generally taught more topics with less depth, with each often spread over the course of more grades, than are their peers in other nations.(10) This lack of focus has been cited as a potential explanation for the relatively poor academic performance of U.S. students compared with those in other nations.(11) Thoroughly examining the Benchmarking jurisdictions’ results in an international context can provide insights into what students are expected to learn in mathematics, what is taught in classrooms, and what policies and practices provide the best match between the intended and the implemented curriculum to improve student achievement.

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10 Schmidt, W.H., McKnight, C.C., and Raizen, S.A. (1997), A Splintered Vision: An Investigation of U.S. Science and Mathematics Education, Dordrecht, the Netherlands: Kluwer Academic Publishers.
11 Myer, D.P., J.E., and Moore, M.T. (2000), Monitoring School Quality: An Indicators Report, NCES 2001-030, Washington, DC: National Center for Educaational Statistics.


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