TIMSS 2011 Results

Achievement scales
Scale creation

The TIMSS international achievement scales were developed based on item response theory and population models using plausible values, with each student respondent being assigned 5 plausible values on each of the achievement scales. Scale scores range from 0 to 1000. Each international scale was established by TIMSS 1995 to have a midpoint of 500 located at the mean of the combined achievement distribution across all countries and to have 100 scale score points correspond to one standard deviation of the combined distribution. In order to measure trends over time, the results of all subsequent TIMSS assessments (1999, 2003, 2007, 2011) were transformed into this metric.

 
Overview of achievement scales
  • Overall achievement (Mathematics and Science, Grades 4 and 8)
  • Content domains
    • Mathematics
      • Grade 4: number, geometric shapes and measures, data display
      • Grade 8: number, algebra, geometry, data and chance
    • Science
      • Grade 4: life science, physical science, earth science
      • Grade 8: biology, chemistry, physics, earth science
  • Cognitive domains (Mathematics and Science, Grades 4 and 8)
    • Knowing
    • Applying
    • Reasoning

Overall achievement results are reported in terms of the percentages of students reaching the following four benchmarks:

  • Advanced International Benchmark (625)
  • High International Benchmark (550)
  • Intermediate International Benchmark (475)
  • Low International Benchmark (400)

The descriptions of the competencies of students reaching each of these benchmarks were determined by means of a scale-anchoring process.

Background scales
Scale creation

TIMSS 2011 created a variety of background questionnaire scales to report the context questionnaire data. Scales were calculated using item response theory (IRT), specifically a Rasch partial credit model. In addition, categorical variables were created using these scales by classifying respondents into one of three groups: High, Middle, and Low. Cut-off points for categorization were determined on a scale-by-scale basis.

 
Questionnaire scales
  • Home Environment Support
    • Home Resources for Learning (Mathematics and Science, Grade 4)
    • Home Educational Resources (Mathematics and Science, Grade 8)
    • Early Numeracy Activities Before Beginning Primary School (Mathematics, Grade 4)
    • Could Do Early Numeracy Tasks When Began Primary School (Mathematics, Grade 4)
  • School Resources (Mathematics and Science, Grades 4 and 8)
    • Instruction Affected by Mathematics/Science Resource Shortages
    • Teacher Working Conditions
  • School climate (Mathematics and Science, Grades 4 and 8)
    • School Emphasis on Academic Success – Principal Reports
    • School Emphasis on Academic Success – Teacher Reports
    • Safe and Orderly School
    • School Discipline and Safety
    • Students Bullied at School
  • Teacher preparation (Mathematics and Science, Grades 4 and 8)
    • Confidence in Teaching Mathematics/Science
    • Teacher Career Satisfaction
  • Students’ attitudes
    • Students Like Learning Mathematics/Science (Mathematics and Science, Grades 4 and 8)
    • Students Like Learning Biology (Science, Grade 8)
    • Students Like Learning Chemistry (Science, Grade 8)
    • Students Like Learning Physics (Science, Grade 8)
    • Students Like Learning Earth Science (Science, Grade 8)
    • Students Confident in Mathematics/Science (Mathematics and Science, Grades 4 and 8)
    • Students Confident in Biology (Science, Grade 8)
    • Students Confident in Chemistry (Science, Grade 8)
    • Students Confident in Physics (Science, Grade 8)
    • Students Confident in Earth Science (Science, Grade 8)
    • Students Value Mathematics/Science (Mathematics and Science, Grade 8)
    • Students Value Biology (Science, Grade 8)
    • Students Value Chemistry (Science, Grade 8)
    • Students Value Physics (Science, Grade 8)
    • Students Value Earth Science (Science, Grade 8)
  • Instruction
    • Collaborate to Improve Teaching (Mathematics and Science, Grades 4 and 8)
    • Instruction to Engage Students in Learning (Mathematics and Science, Grades 4 and 8)
    • Students Engaged in Mathematics/Science Lessons (Mathematics and Science, Grades 4 and 8)
    • Students Engaged in Biology Lessons (Science, Grade 8)
    • Students Engaged in Chemistry Lessons (Science, Grade 8)
    • Students Engaged in Physics Lessons (Science, Grade 8)
    • Students Engaged in Earth Science Lessons (Science, Grade 8)
    • Teachers Emphasize Science Investigation (Science, Grades 4 and 8)
Overview of key study results

Mathematics

  • Countries:
    • East Asian countries were the top performers.
    • Very high percentages of East Asian students met or exceeded TIMSS international benchmarks.
  • Trend (1995-2011): Grade 4 showed more countries improving than declining, but not so Grade 8
  • Early start crucial in developing children’s mathematics achievement.

 

Science

  • Countries:
    • East Asian countries are among the top performers
    • High percentages of East Asian students meet or exceed TIMSS international benchmarks
  • Trend: More increases than decreases, especially at Grade 4
  • Teaching:
    • More time spent on science instruction in countries teaching science as separate subjects.
    • Science teachers emphasizing science investigations

 

Context for Education

  • Home resources strongly correlated with achievement.
  • Schools
    • Higher average performance associated with schools where a greater percentage of students
      • Were from relatively affluent socioeconomic backgrounds and
      • Spoke the language of the TIMSS assessment as their first language.
    • Successful schools
      • Tended to be well-resourced,
      • Emphasized academic success,
      • Had safe and orderly environments.
  • Teachers and teaching:
    • Teacher preparation and career satisfaction related to higher student achievement
    • Engaging instruction related to higher student achievement
    • Affected by students lacking basic nutrition and sleep
  • Positive student attitudes toward the respective subjects were associated with higher achievement, but student attitudes were less positive in Grade 8.

There are more recent studies available in this series: