With STEM careers on the rise, policymakers and administrators alike are scrambling to discern which young students are prepared for future success, which aren't, and why.
One of the primary tools used to find such answers is TIMSS, (i.e. the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study.)
Since 1995, TIMSS has measured student achievement through assessments on mathematics and science, paired along with questionnaires for students and teachers (which add a "why" to the equation.)
Here are a few tidbits worth considering:
How Things Stack Up:
2015 TIMMS results revealed the East Asian countries have maintained their dominance in the world of STEM. Japan, Singapore, South Korea, Hong Kong, and Chinese Taipei had the top results in 4th and 8th grade mathematics. According to Education Week, there was “a 23-point gap at grade 4 and a 48-point gap at grade 8 between these countries and the next highest-scoring countries."
Education Week continued on to say, "The United States trailed further back, with an average score below 10 countries at grade 4 and seven countries at grade 8.”
Meanwhile, the USA's mathematic and science abilities have remained relatively average on a world scale... for a while now. With the influx of STEM opportunities and the increasing prevalence of everyday technology, this is an area that could deservedly experience a push forward in the years to come. Through analysis of what methodologies, practices, and various cultural installations mathematically proficient countries utilize well, policy makers and administrators could take steps towards improvement.
Gender Gap Shifts:
The first TIMSS results in 1995 found that performance in mathematics and science typically favored the boys.
However, the results of 2015 reflected slightly differently— and for the better. There is now more pronounced gender equity, as the gender gaps have been greatly reduced.
Girls often exceeded the boys in science while the boys maintained a slight advantage in mathematics.
About half of the countries participating reported in 2015 that they were working to update their math and science curricula. Over the past 20 years almost all of the TIMSS countries have undergone some level of reform. Math and science were also reported to have been, on average, allotted one-fourth to one-third of instructional time and about 90% of countries in 2015 TIMMS had begun integrating technology into their mathematics and science teachings.
To learn more about the TIMSS click here