The International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement (IEA) is composed of governmental research centers and national research institutions around the world whose aim is to investigate education problems common among countries. Since its inception in 1958, the IEA has conducted more than 23 research studies of cross-national achievement. The regular cycle of studies encompasses learning in basic school subjects. Examples are the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) and the Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS). IEA projects also include studies of particular interest to IEA members, such as the TIMSS 1999 Video Study of Mathematics and Science Teaching, the Civic Education Study, and studies on information technology in education and preprimary education.
Further information on the International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement may be obtained from
Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study
The Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS, formerly known as the Third International Mathematics and Science Study) provides reliable and timely data on the mathematics and science achievement of U.S. students compared with that of students in other countries. TIMSS data have been collected in 1995, 1999, 2003, and 2007. The next publication is scheduled for December 2012 with 2011 data presented. TIMSS collects information through mathematics and science achievement tests and questionnaires. The questionnaires request information to help provide a context for the performance scores, focusing on such topics as students' attitudes and beliefs about learning mathematics and science, what students do as part of their mathematics and science lessons, students' completion of homework, and their lives both in and outside of school; teachers' perceptions of their preparedness for teaching mathematics and science topics, teaching assignments, class size and organization, instructional content and practices, and participation in professional development activities; and principals' viewpoints on policy and budget responsibilities, curriculum and instruction issues, and student behavior, as well as descriptions of the organization of schools and courses. The assessments and questionnaires are designed to specifications in a guiding framework. The TIMSS framework describes the mathematics and science content to be assessed by providing grade-specific objectives, an overview of the assessment design, and guidelines for item development.
Each participating country, like the United States, is required to draw random samples of schools. In the United States, a national probability sample drawn for each study has resulted in over 500 schools and approximately 33,000 students participating in 1995, 220 schools and 9,000 students participating in 1999, 480 schools and almost 19,000 students participating in 2003, and nearly 500 schools and over 15,000 students participating in 2007. In 2007, countries that had participated in TIMSS 2003 were required to increase the size of their student samples to provide data for a bridge study (almost 5,000 additional students participated in the bridge study in the United States). Accommodations were not provided for students with disabilities or students who were unable to read or speak the language of the test. These students were excluded from the sample. The sample design ensures that a sufficient number of schools and students are participating to provide a representative sample of the students in a specific grade in the United States as a whole.
The 2007 U.S. fourth-grade sample achieved an initial school response rate of 70 percent (weighted), with a school response rate of 89 percent after replacement schools were added. Of 300 schools originally surveyed, 290 were determined eligible, and 202 responded. Fifty-five schools were added as replacements, for a total of 257 participating. From the schools that agreed to participate, students were sampled in intact classes. A total of 9,000 fourth-grade students were sampled for the assessment, and about 7,900 participated, for a 95 percent student response rate. The resulting fourth-grade overall response rate, with replacements included, was 84 percent. The U.S. eighth-grade sample achieved an initial school response rate of 68 percent, with a school response rate of 83 percent after replacement schools were added. Of the 300 schools originally surveyed, 287 were determined eligible, 197 responded, and 42 were added as replacements, for a total response pool of 239 schools. A total of 8,500 students were sampled for the eighth-grade assessment, and 7,400 completed the assessment, for a 93 percent student response rate. The resulting eighth-grade overall response rate, with replacements included, was 77 percent. The next study will take place in 2011.
Further information on the study may be obtained from
Early Childhood, International, and Crosscutting Studies Division
International Activities Program
National Center for Education Statistics
1990 K Street NW
Washington, DC 20006