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Lessons Learned

Lessons Learned: What International Assessments Tell Us about Math Achievement

Copyright Date: 2007
Pages: 275
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  • Book Info
    Lessons Learned
    Book Description:

    Standards for education achievement are under scrutiny throughout the industrial world. In this technological age, student performance in mathematics is seen as being particularly important. For more than four decades, international assessments conducted by the International Association for Evaluation of Educational Achievement (IEA) have measured how well students are learning mathematics in different countries. The latest round of mathematics testing of the Trends in Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) takes place in 2007. Beyond the horse race -the rankings that compare nations -what have we learned from the wealth of data collected in these assessments? How do US math curriculums compare to those used overseas? Is the effect of technology in the classroom uniform across nations? How do popular math reforms fare abroad? Those are some of the critical issues tackled in this important book. The authors use the database to address several pressing questions about school policy and educational research. For example, Ina Mullis and Michael Martin review the major lessons learned over the history of TIMSS testing. William Schmidt and Richard T. Houang examine whether curricular breadth affects student achievement. Jeremy Kilpatrick, Vilma Mesa, and Finbarr Sloane evaluate American performance in algebra relative to other nations and pinpoint strengths and weaknesses in American students' learning of algebra.

    eISBN: 978-0-8157-5335-3
    Subjects: Education

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Foreword
    (pp. vii-viii)
    Strobe Talbott

    As a think tank with a “” rather than “” domain name in cyberspace, Brookings takes especially seriously its commitment to work on educational issues. We do so largely through the work of our Brown Center and the expertise of Tom Loveless. I am proud to introduce the latest in a long series of high-quality, high-impact products of the Brown Center.

    The first international study of student academic achievement was carried out between 1961 and 1965. Since then, several studies of math, reading, science, and civics have been conducted. Results are used to compare countries, but rarely is there further...

  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-x)
  5. 1 Introduction: Secondary Analysis of Data from International Assessments
    (pp. 1-8)

    International tests in mathematics are famous for their horse race appeal: to find out the highest-scoring countries, the lowest-scoring countries, and for the citizens of any particular country, how its students rank against the rest of the world. Much more can be learned from analyzing the vast amount of data collected in international assessments. This book examines data from the math tests administered by the International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement (IEA). In the chapters assembled here, experts on international assessment dig beneath the national scores to uncover evidence relevant to policy and practice.

    In the first chapter,...

  6. 2 TIMSS in Perspective: Lessons Learned from IEA’s Four Decades of International Mathematics Assessments
    (pp. 9-36)

    International comparative studies of educational achievement had their origins in what is now known as the First International Mathematics Study (FIMS). FIMS was the first venture of the fledgling International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement (IEA), the organization that pioneered international assessments of student achievement. Although FIMS was conducted principally between 1961 and 1965, its origins may be traced to a plan for a large-scale cross-national study of mathematics presented by Professor Benjamin S. Bloom in 1958 to colleagues in England and Germany.¹

    The 1950s were a time of great educational development and expansion in many countries, with...

  7. 3 Understanding Causal Influences on Educational Achievement through Analysis of Differences over Time within Countries
    (pp. 37-64)

    The International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement (IEA) was founded in 1959 by a small group of education and social science researchers with the purpose of using international comparative research to understand the great complexity of factors influencing student achievement in different subject fields. A popular metaphor was that they wanted to use the world as an educational laboratory.

    The first study, which investigated mathematics achievement in twelve countries, was conducted in 1964.¹ Since the publication of that study, different groups of researchers have published, under the auspices of the IEA, a large number of studies of education...

  8. 4 Lack of Focus in the Mathematics Curriculum: Symptom or Cause?
    (pp. 65-84)

    Two reports, released in conjunction with the original TIMSS (Third International Mathematics and Science Study) in 1997, analyzed the curriculum component of the study and offered one significant explanation for the relatively poor performance of U.S. students in mathematics.¹ The data indicated that the U.S. curriculum typically covered more topics at each grade level than did that of any other country participating in TIMSS—leading to the description of the U.S. math curriculum as one that was “a mile wide and [an] inch deep.” This characterization was true of state curriculum standards, the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM)...

  9. 5 U.S. Algebra Performance in an International Context
    (pp. 85-126)

    In this chapter we use data on how students performed on mathematics items in the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) to explore some effects of the setting in which U.S. students learn algebra. We begin by describing characteristics that make the U.S. school mathematics curriculum fundamentally different from that of other countries. We locate these characteristics in their historical context, contrast them with visions of mathematics and mathematics learning in other countries, and then, drawing on data from TIMSS, use the bulk of the chapter to examine in detail the performance of U.S. students relative to that...

  10. 6 What Can TIMSS Surveys Tell Us about Mathematics Reforms in the United States during the 1990s?
    (pp. 127-174)

    Throughout the 1990s, a number of mathematics reforms were introduced in kindergarten through grade twelve throughout the United States. Many of these reforms were influenced by the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM), which published national standards for mathematics curriculum and instruction, and by the National Science Foundation, which funded the development of curriculum materials aligned to the NCTM Standards.¹ These reforms and many of the new curricula emphasized the importance of problem solving and inquiry and were designed to promote increased use of instructional activities that reformers believed would foster students’ thinking skills. These activities included, for example,...

  11. 7 School Size and Student Achievement in TIMSS 2003
    (pp. 175-204)

    School size is an interesting aspect of educational organization and has been a major topic of discussion in the past decades, both in academia and in politics, for two reasons. First, school size could have an impact on operational costs. Increased size might reduce redundancy and allow more resources to be bundled together at the individual school. This, in turn, could lead to cost savings and lower per pupil spending in larger schools. Second, the effect of size on a school’s organizational structures or on the interactions among school members could have an impact on student achievement.

    Although costs and...

  12. 8 Examining Educational Technology and Achievement through Latent Variable Modeling
    (pp. 205-226)

    The use of computers in the teaching and learning of mathematics appears to be increasing exponentially year by year. Consequently, the amount of research on the relationship between computer use and achievement has been exponentially increasing as well. This trend is reflected by the change in how the International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement (IEA) has approached the computer-achievement relationship. In 1984 when the Second International Science Study was conducted, a single question was included regarding the availability of computers in schools.¹ By 1995 the student background questionnaire from the Third International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) included...

  13. 9 Comparisons between PISA and TIMSS—Are We the Man with Two Watches?
    (pp. 227-262)

    In 2002 and 2003 a strange thing started to happen in the United Kingdom. Government ministers and senior civil servants praised schools’ attainment—praise, moreover, based on the results of international studies. The permanent secretary at the Department for Education and Skills wrote, “For those doubters who constantly seek to run down (our education performance), we now have the OECD/PISA study—the biggest ever international study of comparative performance of 15-year-olds in 32 countries—which shows U.K. fourth in science, seventh in literacy, and eighth in mathematics. Only Finland and Canada are consistently ahead of the U.K.—and major countries...

  14. Contributors
    (pp. 263-264)
  15. Index
    (pp. 265-276)
  16. Back Matter
    (pp. 277-278)