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EDUCATION INDICATORS: An International Perspective


Indicator 24: Time in Formal Instruction

Time spent on instruction is a major influence on student achievement, but equally if not more important is how that time is spent, an influence not measured here. Time spent on mathematics and science instruction is an indicator of a student's access to learning opportunities in these subject areas. Within countries, differences in the time spent on mathematics and science instruction provides an indication of the priority given those subjects in relation to each other.

Sidebar: Organized instruction outside of formal schooling

  • Compared with other countries, schools in the United States provided a relatively low number of instructional days during the 1990-91 school year (178), but had a relatively high number of hours of instruction per day (5.6). In the United States, the average number of hours of instruction per year (997) was either similar to or higher than the average in all but two of the countries reported, France and Taiwan.

  • Japan provided relatively few hours of instruction per day (4.0), but had a long school year (220 days). Taiwan had both a relatively long school day and school year and, at 1,177 hours, had the highest number of average hours of instruction per year of all of the countries reported.

  • The United States devoted a relatively large number of hours to both mathematics and science instruction each week (3.8 and 3.7 hours, respectively). These values were among the highest of the countries reported.

  • In most of the countries for which data were available, 13-year-olds received more hours of mathematics instruction per week than science instruction. Students typically received between 3 and 4 hours of mathematics instruction each week, but, in half of the countries reporting data, they received 3 hours or less of science instruction.

Table 24: Time in formal instruction for 13-year-olds,1,2 by country: 1991


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		 				Overall Instruction					Mathematics		Science
			-------------------------------------------------------------		-------------		-------------		
			Average 		Average			Average hours		Average hours		Average hours
Country			hours per day		days per year		per year		per week 		per week
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
G-73
Canada			5.1 	(0.01)		188 	(0.2)		959	 (-)		3.8 	(0.03)		2.6 	(0.03)
France                  6.2     (0.06)          174     (1.7)         1,079      (-)            3.8     (0.03)          2.9     (0.14)
West Germany (former)   4        4.6            (-)     2195            (-)     1,007           (-)      (-)            (-)      - -
Japan			4.0	 (-) 		220	 (-)		875	 (-)		(-) 	 (-)		(-) 	 - -
United States		5.6 	(0.08)		178 	(0.4)		997	 (-)		3.8 	(0.09)		3.7 	(0.13)
Other
Hungary			3.7 	(0.02)		177 	(1.5)		655	 (-)		3.1 	(0.04)		3.5	(X)
Ireland			5.4 	(0.07)		173 	(0.9)		934	 (-)		3.2 	(0.04)		2.7 	(0.07)
Israel			4.6 	(0.11)		215 	(2.2)		989	 (-)		3.4 	(0.06)		3.0	(X)
Korea			4.4 	(0.04)		222 	(0.4)		977	 (-)		3.0 	(0.03)		2.4 	(0.05)
Soviet Union (former)	4.1 	(0.04)		198 	(2.1)		812	 (-)		4.3 	(0.03)		6.5 	(0.01)
Taiwan                  5.3     (0.12)          222     (2.5)         1,177      (-)            3.4     (0.04)          4.1     (X)
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

-Not available.
X Jackknifed standard error is greater than .165. In Educational Testing Service, International Assessment of Educational Progress Learning Science, 1992, data and the accompanying standard errors were reported in minutes. For Hungary, Israel, and Taiwan, these standard errors were reported as "greater than 9.9." When the values were transformed into hours, standard errors for these three countries became "greater than .165" (9.9 minutes is equivalent to .165 hours).

1/ The average hours of instruction per day includes only the time students spend exposed to educational instruction and does not include time spent in lunch, extracurricular activities, homeroom, breaks between classes, and other noninstructional activities. Thus the actual length of the school day may be considerably longer.
2/ Jackknifed standard errors are in parentheses.
3/ No data available for Italy and the United Kingdom.
4/ Reflects 1990-91 school year.
5/ Includes both full- and half-days.

NOTE: See supplemental note to Indicator 24 for information on indicator calculation for Canada, the former West Germany, Israel, Japan, the former Soviet Union, and the United States.

SOURCE: All countries from Educational Testing Service, International Assessment of Educational Progress, Learning Mathematics, 1992; Learning Science, 1992; except the former West Germany: unpublished tabulations, International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement (IEA) Study of Reading Literacy, 1992; and Japan: National Institute of Educational Research, Ministry of Education, Science, and Culture, Government of Japan, Monbusho, 1992.


Figure 24a: Average hours of formal instruction per year for 13-year-olds, by selected country: 1991

Figure 24a

*1990-91 school year.

SOURCE: All countries from Educational Testing Service, International Assessment of Educational Progress, Learning Mathematics, 1992; Learning Science, 1992; except the former West Germany: unpublished tabulations, International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement (IEA) Study of Reading Literacy, 1992; and Japan: National Institute of Education Research, Ministry of Education, Science, and Culture, Government of Japan, Monbusho, 1992.


Figure 24b: Average hours of instruction per week in mathematics and science for 13-year-olds, by selected country:* 1991

Figure 24b

*Countries are sorted in descending order by average number of hours of mathematics instruction each week.

SOURCE: Educational Testing Service, International Assessment of Educational Progress, Learning Mathematics, 1992; Learning Science, 1992.


See Supplemental Notes on Figure and Tables.


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