Science Benchmarking Report TIMSS 1999–Eighth Grade




CHAPTER 3: Average Achievement in the Science Content Areas

How Does Achievement Differ Across Science Content Areas?

Exhibit 3.1 presents average achievement in each of the six science 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. 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 488, the same as the overall international average.

The countries scoring highest in the overall science assessment – Chinese Taipei, Singapore, Japan, Korea, and the Netherlands – were generally also the highest scorers in each content area, although with some exceptions and not necessarily in that order. Similarly, the Benchmarking jurisdictions with the highest overall performance – the Naperville School District, the First in the World Consortium, the Michigan Invitational Group, and the Academy School District – were also the highest-scoring jurisdictions in five of the six science content areas (all except scientific inquiry and the nature of science). In all content areas, these Benchmarking participants had average achievement comparable to that of the highest-scoring countries. The four participants with the lowest overall performance – the Rochester City School District, the Chicago Public Schools, the Jersey City Public Schools, and the Miami-Dade County Public Schools – also had the lowest performance in each content area.

In contrast to the consistent performance across content areas displayed by the highest- and lowest-performing entities, performance varied more for entities in the middle of the overall performance distribution. The United States, which performed significantly above the international average in the overall assessment, also had above-average performance in each of the content areas except physics. Performance in Connecticut, Idaho, and Guilford County followed the U.S. pattern. In life science and in scientific inquiry and the nature of science, the two areas in which the United States performed best, some of the lowest-performing Benchmarking participants had more success than in the other content areas. Rochester and Chicago performed at about the international average in both content areas, and Jersey City and Miami-Dade in scientific inquiry and the nature of science.

Exhibits B.1 through B.6 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 Benchmarking is a project of the International Study Center
Boston College, Lynch School of Education