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Note 5: International Assessments (2009)

Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS)

Indicators 15, 16, and 29 are based on data collected as part of the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS). TIMSS provides reliable and timely data on the mathematics and science achievement of U.S. 4th- and 8th-grade students compared with that of students in other countries. TIMSS has been implemented four times: in 1995, 1999, 2003, and 2007. The focus of TIMSS is on the mathematics and science knowledge and skills of 4th- and 8th-grade students around the world. In 1995, some 41 countries participated; in 1999, some 38 countries participated; in 2003, some 46 countries participated; and in 2007, some 58 countries participated. TIMSS is closely linked to the curricula of the participating countries, providing an indication of the degree to which students have learned concepts in mathematics and science likely to be encountered in their schools. In addition to mathematics and science assessment items, TIMSS asked students, their teachers, and their school principals to complete questionnaires about their curriculum, schools, classrooms, and instruction. Indicators 15 and 16 feature TIMSS assessment data while data for indicator 29 are from the TIMSS 2007 Teacher Questionnaire.

In 2007, participating countries administered TIMSS to two national probability samples of students and schools, based on a standardized definition. Countries were required to draw samples of students who were nearing the end of their 4th or 8th year of formal schooling, beginning with Level 1 of the International Standard Classification of Education (ISCED). The ISCED was developed by the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) to facilitate the comparability of educational levels across countries and to assist countries in providing comparable, cross-national data. ISCED Level 1 is termed primary schooling, and in the United States is equivalent to the first through sixth grades. In most countries, including the United States, students who were assessed by TIMSS were in the fourth and eighth grades. Details on the grades assessed in each country can be found at and additional information on ISCED levels can be found at

In 2007, the assessment components of TIMSS tested students in two populations: