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Topic: Missouri, Oregon Do Well on TIMSS
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Jerry P. Becker

Posts: 16,576
Registered: 12/3/04
Missouri, Oregon Do Well on TIMSS
Posted: Aug 4, 1998 6:44 PM
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Education Week on the Web [], June 24, 1998

Mo., Ore. 8th Graders Have Strong Showing On International Exam

By Millicent Lawton

Colorado Springs, Colo.
Two American states have learned that their 8th graders can
academically hold their own against their peers around the world.

In special testing conducted last year, students from Missouri and
Oregon bested the performance of U.S. 8th graders in 1995 on the
Third International Mathematics and Science Study tests. Presenters
at the Council of Chief State School Officers' annual conference on
large-scale assessment discussed the results here last week for the
first time in a national venue.

In addition to outscoring the United States as a whole, Missouri and
Oregon students performed above the international average in both
mathematics and science, according to Pascal D. Forgione Jr., the
U.S. Department of Education's commissioner of education statistics.

"It's good news for both of them," Mr. Forgione said of the two

Comparison Opportunity

By having the same students take the rigorous TIMSS exam and a new
state assessment in math, Missouri gained even more information from
the testing.

Now, it's the only state in the nation to be able to tell how its
own statewide test compares with the global math exam as an
international benchmark. The verdict: The Show-Me State has a tough

Missouri and Oregon became only the fourth and fifth states--after
Colorado, Illinois, and Minnesota--to give TIMSS exams to students
as if the states were nations that had taken part in the global
study. Missouri and Oregon took the Education Department up on its
offer of a chance to give the exams last year.

Overall, Oregon came out a bit ahead of Missouri. When ranked among
the 41 countries participating in TIMSS at the 8th grade level,
Oregon fell behind only Singapore on the science exam. In math,
eight countries scored significantly higher than Oregon.

"Oregon's school improvement act calls for us to have the best-
educated citizens in the nation and the world," Norma Paulus, the
state superintendent of public instruction, said in a prepared
statement. "These results show that we're well along the road to
reaching that goal."

A total of 2,200 randomly-selected, representative students in 58
Oregon schools took the tests.

'Doing OK?'

In Missouri, 8th graders also did well in science, again with just
Singapore doing statistically better. They fared somewhat worse than
the Oregonians in math, with 18 countries coming out ahead of them.
As a whole, American 8th graders had seen nine nations score higher
in science and 20 nations do better in math.

A representative sample of 2,102 8th graders from 54 districts took
both the new Missouri Assessment Program and the TIMSS exams.

With its students taking the state test and the international exams,
Missouri learned it is holding its students to tough performance
standards on its home-grown assessment.

For instance, to be called "advanced," Missouri students must score
at least 43 points higher on the state assessment than do the top 10
percent of world performers on TIMSS. Likewise, the point at which a
Missouri student is called "proficient" is 22 points higher than the
cut-off score to rank in the top quarter of TIMSS test-takers.

The results are "excellent news," said James Friedebach, the
director of assessment for the Missouri education department. The
close statistical link established between the Missouri state test
and TIMSS "gave us a real opportunity to see how we're really

"It's going to give districts an idea how they did against an
international benchmark," Mr. Friedebach said. "It's a way to help
them answer the question, 'Are we doing OK?'

"I think we've taken a very substantial step," he said, "in
connecting large-scale assessment with classroom instruction."


June 12, 1998


Oregon eighth graders scored above the international and national
averages on science and math tests conducted by the Third
International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS).

In fact, of the 41 international participants, only Singapore scored
significantly higher than Oregon in science, and only eight
countries scored significantly higher in math.

"Oregon's school improvement act calls for us to have the best
educated citizens in the nation and the world," said State Schools
Supt. Norma Paulus. "These results show that we're well along the
road to reaching that goal."

About 2,200 Oregon students in 58 schools last year took the same
tests as the international participants took in 1995. TIMSS is the
largest, most comprehensive and most rigorous international study of
student achievement ever undertaken.

Oregon students scored 564 on the science test. That's significantly
above the international average of 516 and the U.S. average of 534.
Twenty-one percent of Oregon students scored in the top 10 percent
on the science test, while 40 percent were in the top quarter and 64
percent in the top half.

On the math test, Oregon students scored 525, higher than the
international score of 513 and the national score of 500. Nine
percent of Oregon students were in the top 10 percent, 27 percent in
the top quarter and 55 percent in the top half.

"I credit Oregon science and math teachers for our excellent
showing," said Paulus who invited some of the state's science and
math teachers to today's announcement. "Oregon teachers are working
tirelessly to help students reach our high academic standards.

"For example, science teachers have connected their students to
Oregon's best classroom, our outdoors. Oregon's backyard is filled
with lesson plans for learning and applying science."

The TIMSS report is filled with detailed information on the results
and factors affecting the scores.

For instance, the report shows a high correlation between test
scores and time spent watching television. It shows that Oregon
students watch less television than students in the nation and in
most participating countries. This finding agrees with earlier
results from Oregon's participation in the National Assessment of
Educational Progress (NAEP).

Oregon boys scored significantly higher than girls on the science
test. The same gender difference was not found when Oregon
participated in a science test conducted by NAEP.

More insights to science learning will come this summer when Oregon
announces results of its first state science test conducted this

Paulus said testing is vital to charting student progress.

"Before Oregon's school improvement act was approved in 1991, we had
a very limited ability to report on the quality of our schools," she
said. "Now, through the state assessment and Oregon's participation
in national and international tests, we are beginning to establish a
valuable baseline for learning."

Only two other states, Missouri and Minnesota, participated in the
TIMSS tests.

(contact Larry Austin: 503-378-3573, ext. 530)

Media: The TIMSS reports on science and math are
posted on the Oregon Department of Education's web
site found at

Norma Paulus, State Superintendent of Public Instruction

Jerry P. Becker
Dept. of Curriculum & Instruction
Southern Illinois University
Carbondale, IL 62901-4610 USA
Fax: (618)453-4244
Phone: (618)453-4241 (office)

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