Summary of the Third International Mathematics and Science Study Repeat Project
Mary Lou KestellThe Third International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS), a project of IEA , the International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement, was designed to compare and contrast the teaching and learning of mathematics and science in elementary and secondary schools around the world. The first round of TIMSS data collection occurred in 1995 at Grades 3/4, 7/8, and the end of secondary school (Grade 12/OAC in Ontario). A repeat project (TIMSS-R) was conducted in 1999, and a third round of data collection is scheduled for 2003. For future projects TIMSS will stand for Trends In Mathematics and Science Study.
In May of 1999, a nationally representative sample of several thousand Canadian Grade 8 students took part in TIMSS-R. For those countries and provinces that participated in both the original TIMSS and TIMSS-R, it was possible to compare students achievement results of the student cohort that was in Grade 4 in 1995 and in Grade 8 in 1999. Five provinces drew large enough school and student samples (over-sampled) to generate representative, generalizable provincial statistics: British Columbia, Alberta, Ontario, Quebec and Newfoundland. A full copy of the report is accessible from the Web site of the Education Quality and Accountability Office at http://www.eqao.com.
Ontario Grade 8 students performed significantly better in mathematics in 1999 than they had as Grade 4 mathematics students in 1995. In 1999, ten countries scored above Ontario and nineteen countries scored below.
In 1993, The Common Curriculum from the Ontario Ministry of Education, described a mathematics education for students in Ontario that required them to use problem solving to learn mathematics itself and began to ask them to explain their thinking. The curriculum described a mathematics program with learning expectations outlined in five strands. In 1997, The Ontario Curriculum: Grades 1-8, Mathematics was released. It describes performance for students in five strands: Number Sense and Numeration, Measurement, Geometry and Spatial Sense, Patterning and Algebra, Data Management and Probability. It also describes achievement in the four categories: Problem solving, Understanding of concepts, Application of mathematical procedures, and Communication of required knowledge related to concepts, procedures, and problem solving.
There may not be a single factor to explain Ontario's improved achievement from 1995 to 1999 but the implementation of new curriculum could certainly be considered one factor.
In the TIMSS-R report it shows that student in Quebec did even better than students in Ontario and it is the case that their curriculum is focused on students learning to explain their mathematical thinking through problem solving.
The table below shows comparative scores for the Canadian participants and compares each score to the International average. Notice that Ontario scores are significantly higher than the international average in every content area.
Achievement on Mathematics Content Areas
The following chart provides a summary of Canadian, provincial and international student achievement on the five mathematics content areas.
= Essentially the same as the international average
The achievement scale scores and standard error statistics in the above chart are rounded figures; consequently, a few jurisdictions may appear to be incorrectly categorized as significantly higher than or essentially the same as the international average. The categorization of provincial achievement scores is accurate and reflects the international scale scores with means of 500.
Summary of Achievement Results