In the News: U.S. Students Still Lag Many Asian Peers on International Math and Science Exam

The results of the TIMSS (Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study) were released on Tuesday.

The performance of U.S. fourth graders was stagnant, but eighth grade students showed some improvement in math and science over the past four years, Emma Brown reports in the Washington Post. (On the NAEP exam, the scores of eighth graders declined during the same period, she notes.)

Most news outlets focused on the performance of American students compared to students from other countries.

On TIMSS, the average score of U.S. fourth-graders in math put them behind students in 10 other systems: Singapore, Hong Kong, South Korea, Taiwan, Japan, Russia, Northern Ireland and Ireland, Norway, and the Flemish portion of Belgium.

U.S. students did about the same in science.

When the last round of TIMSS results were released, Paul Peterson and Eric Hanushek argued against being satisfied with middling performance on the TIMSS.

Instead of being complacent about our international standings, we should focus on ways to get our students up to the top leagues. There is considerable disagreement about the precise way to do this, but there is also broad recognition of key factors.

An earlier study by Peterson, Hanushek, and Ludger Woessman looked at which countries — and which U.S. states — were producing large numbers of high-achieving students in math.

And a study by Ludger Woessman analyzed which policies produce higher levels of student achievement on international tests.

— Education Next

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