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TIMSS Tidbits

In case you missed it, the TIMSS results were released this week, and U.S. students didn't fare too badly, unless you count the point difference between them and their 4th and 8th grade peers in Singapore, Korea, and Hong Kong.

The report is here, Ed Week's story here, and a critique of the U.S. performance by Mark Schneider, the former commissioner of education statistics at the Ed. Dept., here.

I've included the video briefing as well.

There are lots of interesting data points and tidbits in the hundreds of pages that make up the report, as well as in the vast encyclopedia that details each country's educational context. So if you're looking for some heavy-duty reading materials, or a piece of trivia to use at your next mixer with academics, I encourage you to start reading.

Here are a couple I've picked out:

— Homework did not play much of a role in student achievement among 4th graders. For 8th graders, though, more homework tended to equate with higher math scores. The kicker, however, is that teachers in many countries are assigning less homework now than in 2003.

— If you like math, or at least have a positive attitude toward it, you are likely to do better on the test than students who are not so keen on the subject.

—Fourth graders in Hong Kong have come a long way since 2003, making it to the top among the 59 countries on the math test. They increased their country's score at that grade level by 32 points in the four years between tests. But watch out. Armenia is coming on strong. Although the former Soviet republic is way down in the ranking, 4th graders there improved by 44 points over their peers who took the test in 2003. Minnesota, which was a benchmarking participant in the test, surged 38 points on the test since 1995.

— Several countries have seen a big slide in their scores over the years. Sweden, which tends to score above the TIMSS average of 500 points on the 1,000-point scale, lost 48 points on the 8th grade math test between 1999 and 2007. The news for the Czech Republic was worse on the 4th grade math test, with its students losing 54 points over the same period.

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