Science Benchmarking Report TIMSS 1999–Eighth Grade
Chapter 5 Contents
  Science Subjects Offered Up To and Including Eighth Grade



What TIMSS 1999 Countries Have Assessments And Exams in Science?

How Do Education Systems Deal with Individual Differences?



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







CHAPTER 5:The Science Curriculum

How Do Education Systems Deal with Individual Differences?

The challenge of maximizing opportunity to learn for students with widely differing abilities and interests is met differently in different education systems. Exhibit 5.15 summarizes questionnaire and interview data on how selected comparison countries, as well as states, districts, and consortia, organized their curricula to deal with this issue.

Some participants indicated using more than one method of dealing with individual differences among students, and in these cases the category describing the main method was reported. In the United States, and in Canada, Chinese Taipei, the Czech Republic, Hong Kong, and the Russian Federation among the comparison countries, the same curriculum was intended for all students, but it was recommended that teachers adapt the level and scope of their teaching to the abilities and interests of their students. In the Czech Republic and England, the science curriculum was taught at different levels to different groups, two in the Czech Republic and nine in England – so many because in England the levels are defined in terms of progressively more complex performance to be demonstrated. Another approach to differentiated provision was followed in Belgium (Flemish), the Netherlands, and Singapore, which assign different curricula to students of different levels of ability and interest. Three of the comparison countries, Italy, Japan, and Korea, reported that their official science curricula did not address the issue of differentiating instruction for eighth-grade students with different abilities or interests.

All of the Benchmarking states and most of the districts and consortia generally resembled the United States in that they provided the same curriculum for all, but expected teachers to adapt the level and scope of their teaching to their students’ needs. The First in the World Consortium, Miami-Dade, and Montgomery County provided the same curriculum to all, but at different levels for different groups – three levels in First in the World and two levels in each of the other two.

Schools’ reports on how they organize to accommodate students with different abilities or interests are shown in Exhibit R2.1 in the reference section. Substantial percentages of students in many countries were in schools that offered remedial science (53 percent, on average internationally) and enrichment science (50 percent). While high-performing Singapore and Chinese Taipei reported that 97 and 78 percent of their students, respectively, were in schools that offered remedial science, all Benchmarking jurisdictions reported that less than 30 percent of their students were in such schools. Six Benchmarking jurisdictions reported higher percentages of students in schools that offer enrichment science than internationally, with Miami-Dade and Rochester reporting that 100 percent of their students were in such schools.

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