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Selected Findings from TIMSS 2015

U.S. Performance in Mathematics at Grades 4 and 8

4th Grade Mathematics

  • In 2015, U.S. fourth-gradersí average score in mathematics was 539, which was higher than the average scores of students in 34 education systems and lower than the average scores of students in 10 education systems (table 1).

  • U.S. fourth-grade students have, on average, shown long-term improvement on the TIMSS mathematics assessments. At the fourth grade, U.S. studentsí average mathematics scores increased from 1995, 2003, and 2007 to 2015 (table 17). The average mathematics score in 2015, however, was not measurably different from the most recent assessment in 2011. Over 20 years, U.S. fourth-gradersí average mathematics score increased from 518 points in 1995 to 539 points in 2015.

  • At the fourth grade, 14 percent of U.S. students reached the Advanced international benchmark in mathematics in 2015, 47 percent reached the High benchmark, 79 percent reached the Intermediate benchmark, and 95 percent reached the Low benchmark (figure 1). Higher percentages of U.S. students reached each of the four TIMSS international benchmarks than the international medians.

  • In 2015, the percentage of fourth-graders who reached the Advanced international benchmark in mathematics was

    • higher than the United States in 7 education systems: Singapore, Hong Kong-CHN, the Republic of Korea, Chinese Taipei-CHN, Japan, Northern Ireland-GBR, and the Russian Federation;

    • not measurably different from the United States in 8 education systems: England-GBR, Kazakhstan, Florida-USA, Ireland, Norway, Hungary, Portugal, and Denmark; and

    • lower than the United States in 38 education systems (figure 1).

8th Grade Mathematics

  • In 2015, U.S. eighth-gradersí average score in mathematics was 518, which was higher than the average scores of students in 24 education systems and lower than the average scores of students in 8 education systems (table 2).

  • At the eighth grade, U.S. studentsí average mathematics scores increased from all prior time points (1995, 1999, 2003, 2007 and 2011) to 2015 (table 18). Over 20 years, U.S. eighth-gradersí mathematics scores increased from 492 points in 1995 to 518 points in 2015.

  • At the eighth grade, 10 percent of U.S. students reached the Advanced international benchmark in mathematics in 2015, 37 percent reached the High benchmark, 70 percent reached the Intermediate benchmark, and 91 percent reached the Low benchmark (figure 2). The percentage of U.S. students reaching each of the international benchmarks in mathematics was higher than the median percentages reaching each benchmark internationally.

  • In 2015, the percentage of eighth-graders who reached the Advanced international benchmark in mathematics was

    • higher than the United States in 8 education systems: Singapore, Chinese Taipei-CHN, the Republic of Korea, Hong Kong-CHN, Japan, Kazakhstan, the Russian Federation, and Israel;

    • not measurably different from the United States in 5 education systems: Hungary, Dubai-UAE, England-GBR, Quebec-CAN, and Florida-USA;

    • lower than the United States in 29 education systems (figure 2).

U.S. Performance in Science at Grades 4 and 8

4th Grade Science

  • In 2015, U.S. fourth-gradersí average score in science was 546, which was higher than the average scores of students in 38 education systems and lower than the average scores of students in 7 education systems (table 23).

  • U.S. fourth-grade students have shown improvement on the TIMSS science assessments over some time periods: average scores in 2015 were higher than in 2003 and 2007 (table 39). However, there was no measurable difference between the average science score in 2015 and the average science score in 1995 or 2011. The apparent difference between the average score in 1995 and in 2015 (542 vs. 546 points) was not statistically significant.

  • At the fourth grade, 16 percent of U.S. students reached the Advanced international benchmark in science in 2015, 51 percent reached the High benchmark, 81 percent reached the Intermediate benchmark, and 95 percent reached the Low benchmark (figure 7). Higher percentages of U.S. students reached the Advanced, High, and Intermediate TIMSS international benchmarks in science than the international medians.

  • In 2015, the percentage of fourth-graders who reached the Advanced international benchmark in science was

    • higher than the United States in 4 education systems: Singapore, the Republic of Korea, the Russian Federation, and Japan;

    • not measurably different from the United States in 7 education systems: Kazakhstan, Hong Kong-CHN, Florida-USA, Bulgaria, Chinese Taipei-CHN, Hungary, and Dubai-UAE; and

    • lower than the United States in 41 education systems (figure 7).

8th Grade Science

  • In 2015, U.S. eighth-gradersí average score in science was 530, which was higher than the average scores of students in 26 education systems and lower than the average scores of students in 7 education systems (table 24).

  • At the eighth grade, U.S. studentsí average science scores increased from 1995, 1999, and 2007 to 2015, but there were no measurable differences from 2003 or the most recent time point (2011) to 2015 (table 40). Over 20 years, U.S. eighth-graders' science scores increased from 513 points in 1995 to 530 points in 2015.

  • At the eighth grade, 12 percent of U.S. students reached the Advanced international benchmark in science in 2015, 43 percent reached the High benchmark, 75 percent reached the Intermediate benchmark, and 93 percent reached the Low benchmark (figure 8). The percentage of U.S. students reaching each of the international benchmarks in science was higher than the median percentages reaching each benchmark internationally.

  • In 2015, the percentage of eighth-graders who reached the Advanced international benchmark in science was

    • higher than the United States in 6 education systems: Singapore, Chinese Taipei-CHN, Japan, the Republic of Korea, Slovenia, and Kazakhstan;

    • not measurably different from the United States in 10 education systems: England-GBR, the Russian Federation, Dubai-UAE, Israel, Hungary, Hong Kong-CHN, Ireland, Sweden, New Zealand, and Florida-USA; and

    • lower than the United States in 26 education systems (figure 8).