Date: Dec 11, 2012 12:58 PM
Author: Paul A. Tanner III
Subject: Re: TIMMS 2011 How did your country go? Not good news for US!

On Tue, Dec 11, 2012 at 8:52 AM, Robert Hansen <> wrote:
> I think this says it best...
> "The most striking contrast comes in the 8th grade, where nearly half of all students tested in South Korea, Singapore, and Chinese Taipei (Taiwan) reached the ?advanced? level in math, compared with only 7 percent of American test-takers, according to the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study, or TIMSS, for 2011."
> Finland did even worse. Zeev was right.

And I was right - I have written here at math-teach repeatedly that TIMSS and PISA are very different types of test, measuring very different types of things, TIMSS being more of the so-called traditional type of assessment and PISA being more of the so-called reform type of assessment.

And in that context I have said that I'm impressed most only when I see a system getting good results on both types of assessments. I said that based on past performance on TIMSS, Finland on TIMSS would measure close to the US, and lower than the average score of white students in the US.

In 2011 for 8th grade math we see the US scoring 509, Finland scoring 214 (these two scores' difference not statistically significant), and US whites scoring 530 (statistically insignificantly lower than 533 in 2007), second in participating non-East-Asian countries' scores only to the Russian Federation's 539 (vastly better than 512 in 2007), which is still well behind the state of Massachusetts at a whopping 561 (improving from 547 in 2007), close to the 570 score of Japan, the lowest scoring East Asian country.

Countries like France and Germany and some Eastern European do not participate any more in 8th grade TIMSS, but in 1999 France scored 538 and Germany scored 509, and the best of these Eastern European countries scored in the 520s and 530s, meaning that US whites score in the same range as the top rank of the entire non-East-Asian world, with the state of Massachusetts scoring well above the entire non-East-Asian world.

So it still is fair to say that when we make even just crude adjustments for ethnic demographics, we see the US pubic school system doing as well as just about any other school system *covering an entire country* in the world. (In addition to and similarly to what I did above, which is to look at the scores for the white students in the US and compare to the scores of more homogeneous countries that are predominantly white, look at the scores for the black students in the US and compare to the scores of more homogeneous countries that are predominantly black. And it is very important to note that Hong Kong - and Shanghai, which did not participate here - does not cover the entire country of China. They are cherry-picked as the two best districts in China, scoring well better on PISA than even just Macau, the third best cherry-picked district in China.) That is, a crude demographic adjustment of this type shows that white students in the US score roughly as well or better than the white students in just about any other country in the world, and that black students in the US score roughly as well or better than the black students in just about any other country in the world.

This should be considered true even in terms of students reaching the various benchmarks in 8th grade. For instance, in terms of percentage of students reaching the highest benchmark, advanced, Finland was at only 4%, the entire US at 7%, but the best non-East-Asian country was the Russian Federation at only 14%. The worst East Asian score here was 27% for Japan. I presently have not seen the figures on this measure for US in terms of ethnicity or for the state of Massachusetts.

At the page

is the data for the above.