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Data Files

The U.S. TIMSS data are made available in three versions, each of which includes student achievement data as well as student, teacher, school, and curricular background data (known as the “international variables”). The differences between these versions is summarized in the following table below and described in detail below it. TIMSS data files are quite complex on account of the study’s multi-stage sample design and use of imputed scores (also known as plausible values); these complexities can make analyzing the data challenging. To help users explore TIMSS data, we have compiled a list of NCES and external online tools and tutorials focused on TIMSS. Please visit our Analyzing Tools page for details.

Table 1: Comparing three versions of U.S. TIMSS data

Version

U.S. data for international variables

Other participating education systems’ data for international variables

Data for U.S.-specific variables (e.g., race/ethnicity, poverty)

Restricted data (e.g., access to school names and CCD ID)

1. TIMSS International U.S. data files

Yes

Yes

No

No

2. TIMSS U.S. national public-use data files

Yes

No

Yes

No

3. TIMSS U.S. national restricted-use data files

Yes

No

Yes

Yes


1. TIMSS International U.S. data files

The TIMSS International U.S. data files are available as part of the TIMSS International Database released for each round of TIMSS. The International Database consists of data files with the set of international variables that are common to all participating education systems, including the United States. The TIMSS International Database, its User Guide (describing the organization and content of the database) and supplements, and supporting materials (e.g., SAS/SPSS control files, international codebooks and data almanacs, international background questionnaires, and released items) are available for download for each round of TIMSS from the TIMSS and PIRLS International Study Center website. This website also lists publications that may be of use to data users (e.g., TIMSS Data Analysis manuals, TIMSS technical reports, TIMSS international data reports, and TIMSS assessment frameworks).

2. TIMSS U.S. national public-use data files

In addition to the information collected as part of the international background questionnaires, which are the data in the international variables, each country has the option to collect additional nationally specific information. In each round of TIMSS, the United States has used this option to collect some U.S.-specific information that is not included in the TIMSS International Database. For example, the additional U.S.-specific information includes the race/ethnicity of students (from questions added to the U.S. version of the TIMSS student questionnaire) and the percentage of students in a school eligible for the federal free and reduced-price lunch program (from questions added to the U.S. version of the TIMSS school questionnaire). These U.S.-specific data and variables are available in the TIMSS U.S. national public-use data files which can be downloaded from the TIMSS Data Products. Note that there is no public-use version for the TIMSS 1999 data; only a restricted-use data file is available, which also includes the rescaled U.S. TIMSS 1995 data for those wishing to conduct analyses of the 1995 and 1999 datasets.

3. TIMSS U.S. national restricted-use data files

The TIMSS U.S. national restricted-use data files include (a) the U.S.-specific data and variables that are available in the TIMSS U.S. national public-use data files, (b) complete, original data for the continuous variables that are converted into categorical data in the public-use data files to maintain confidentiality, and (c) the supplemental files that link TIMSS school ID numbers to the school ID numbers as they appear in the publicly available Common Core of Data (CCD) or the Private School Universe Survey (PSS). Because these data can reveal the identities of participating schools, the restricted-use data files are only available to those who have obtained an NCES restricted-use data license. Directions on how to obtain the license can be found at http://nces.ed.gov/pubsearch/licenses.asp.

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