What do you all make of the TIMSS fourth grade data, showing great improvements in the US international ranking in mathematics? Could the Standards be at least partially responsible? The 1996 NAEP also shows solid improvement over 1992, so this does not appear to be an isolated result (which was my first reaction, given the abysmal 8th-grade TIMSS results).
My theory: Perhaps it is easier for change to take place in the lower grades. Even minor adjustments away from memorizing tables of facts may create significant changes in a large-scale study. Also, beginning to focus on mathematics beyond arithmetic could yield some hefty improvements. I don't know, this is just speculation. I'd like to hear how others read this data. In any case, it does seriously challenge the credibility of the assertion that the Standards are destroying students' minds.
TIMSS is a comprehensive cross-national study of mathematics and science teaching and learning in approximately 40 countries. Information has been gathered from (1) assessments of student achievement in mathematics and science at Population 1 (grades 3 and 4), Population 2 (grades 7 and 8), and Population 3 (grade 12); (2) questionnaires for students, teachers, and schools at those grades; (3) analyses of textbooks and curriculum guides; (4) videotapes of classroom instruction at grade 8 in Germany, Japan, and the United States; and (5) case studies of the educational context in Germany, Japan, and the United States.
**How did U.S. fourth graders do?
Performance is above the international average.
Performance is above the international average on five of the six content categories, but below the international average on the sixth category.
The results of the TIMSS assessment show that, overall, U.S. fourth graders were significantly above the average of the 26 countries participating in the analysis of mathematics achievement [2, p. 19]. Our students were above the international average for every topic except that of measurement, estimation, and number sense, where they were below th average.
**Where is other information about TIMSS available?