Mathematics Benchmarking Report TIMSS 1999–Eighth Grade




CHAPTER 7: School Contexts for Learning and Instruction

Chapter 7 presents findings about the school contexts for learning and instruction in mathematics, including school characteristics, policies, and practices. Information is presented about the percentage of students eligible for free or reduced-price lunch for each Benchmarking participant, and about the extent of school resources, including computers and Internet access, for the Benchmarking participants and for selected reference countries. Data are also provided on the role of the school principal and on issues related to school climate and environment, including attendance problems and school safety.


What Is the Economic Composition of the Student Body?

There is considerable evidence that student achievement is greater in schools with higher proportions of students from advantaged socio-economic backgrounds.(1) To provide information on the composition of the student body, schools’ reports on the percentage of their students that are eligible to receive free or reduced-price lunch are summarized in Exhibit 7.1 for each of the Benchmarking participants.(2) The Benchmarking participants span almost the complete range on this factor, from the Naperville School District and the Academy School District, with just a few percent of low-income students, to the Jersey City Public Schools, where almost all students (89 percent) were eligible to receive free or reduced-price lunch. Although mathematics achievement was not perfectly correlated with the percentage of students eligible for free or reduced-price lunch, it is noticeable that several high-performing jurisdictions had low percentages of eligible students, and that three of the four lowest-performing(3) – the Chicago Public Schools, the Rochester City School District, and the Jersey City Public Schools – had the highest percentages of such students.

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Data on this issue from TIMSS 1995 are presented in Martin, M.O., Mullis, I.V.S., Gregory, K.D., Hoyle, C.D., and Shen, C. (2000), Effective Schools in Science and Mathematics: IEA’s Third International Mathematics and Science Study, Chestnut Hill, MA: Boston College.

2 These data were collected only in the United States and in the Benchmarking jurisdictions.
3 The response rate from schools in the Miami-Dade County Public Schools was insufficient for reliable reporting.

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