Mathematics Benchmarking Report TIMSS 1999–Eighth Grade




CHAPTER 5: The Mathematics Curriculum

What TIMSS 1999 Countries Have Assessments And Exams in Mathematics?

Assessments and exams that are aligned with the intended curriculum provide a means for evaluating system- and student-level achievement. System-wide assessments are designed primarily to inform policy makers about matters such as national standards of achievement of the intended curriculum objectives, strengths and weaknesses in the curriculum or how it is being implemented, and whether educational achievement is improving or deteriorating. The primary purpose of national public examinations, while providing information of interest to national and regional policy makers, is to provide information for making decisions about individual students.

Exhibit 5.8 shows that about two-thirds of the participating countries had national assessments in mathematics, with half of those assessing all students and half sampling students. Most countries tested two or three grades, with Hong Kong (nine grades) and Korea (seven grades) testing the most grades. Generally, the purpose of system-wide assessments was to provide feedback to government policy makers and the public, although some countries provided feedback to individual schools. For example, in Singapore the 20 schools found to provide the greatest value-added measures received monetary rewards, as did teachers of the top 25 percent of classes in Chile.

Using public examinations as a way to select students for university or academic tracks in secondary school can be an important motivating factor for student achievement (see Exhibit 5.9). Thirty-seven countries reported having public examinations or awards, at one or more grades, that included testing achievement in mathematics. Most countries held their examinations in the final year of schooling for certification and selection to higher education (often, university education). In about one-third of the countries, public examinations were also used for selection or course assignment (tracking) within secondary schools.


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