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Selected Findings from TIMSS Advanced 2015

U.S. Performance in Advanced Mathematics at the end of high school

  • The U.S. advanced twelfth-graders who took the TIMSS advanced mathematics assessment in 2015 represented 11.4 percent of the corresponding U.S. age cohort (18 years)—this percentage is known as the advanced mathematics coverage index1 (table 45). This advanced mathematics coverage index ranged from 1.9 percent for advanced students taking intensive courses in the Russian Federation to 34.4 percent for advanced students in Slovenia.
  • In 2015, the U.S. average score in advanced mathematics was 485, which was higher than the average scores of advanced students in five education systems and lower than those in two education systems (table 46).
  • The U.S. average score in advanced mathematics in 2015 (485) was not measurably different than the U.S. average score in 1995 (497) (figure 14). No education systems had higher average advanced mathematics scores in 2015 than in 1995, but three education systems (France, Italy, and Sweden) had lower average scores.
  • In 2015, 7 percent of U.S. advanced twelfth-graders reached the Advanced international benchmark in advanced mathematics, 26 percent reached the High benchmark, and 56 percent reached the Intermediate benchmark (figure 13). Only the intensive courses in the Russian Federation had a higher percentage of students reaching the Advanced international benchmark than the United States. This Russian population (in the intensive courses), as well as that in Lebanon, also had higher percentages of students reaching the High and Intermediate international benchmarks than the United States. Five education systems—France, Italy, Norway, Slovenia, and Sweden—had lower percentages of students reaching each international benchmark than the United States.
  • U.S. males who took the TIMSS Advanced assessment in 2015 scored 500 points, on average, in advanced mathematics, compared to 470 points for females (figure 15). This 30-percentage-point difference was at the high end of the range of male-female differences across education systems in TIMSS Advanced, which otherwise ranged from 9 percentage points in the Russian Federation to 27 percentage points in Slovenia—all favoring males. In Italy, Lebanon, and Portugal, there were no measurable male-female differences in average advanced mathematics scores.

U.S. Performance in Physics at the end of high school

  • The U.S. advanced twelfth-graders who took the TIMSS physics assessment in 2015 represented 4.8 percent of the corresponding U.S. age cohort (18 years)—this percentage is known as the physics coverage index2 (table 54). This physics coverage index ranged from 3.9 percent for advanced students in Lebanon to 21.5 percent for advanced students in France.
  • In 2015, the U.S. average score in physics was 437, which was higher than the average scores of advanced students in three education systems and lower than those in four education systems (table 55).
  • The U.S. average score in physics in 2015 (437) was not measurably different from the U.S. average score in 1995 (454) (figure 17). No education systems had higher average physics scores in 2015 than in 1995, but four education systems (France, Norway, Russian Federation, and Sweden) had lower average physics scores.
  • In 2015, 5 percent of U.S. advanced twelfth-graders reached the Advanced international benchmark in physics, 18 percent reached the High benchmark, and 39 percent reached the Intermediate benchmark (figure 16). Higher percentages of students in Norway, the Russian Federation, and Slovenia reached each of the three international benchmarks in physics than in the United States. In three education systems—France, Italy, and Lebanon—lower percentages of students reached each international benchmark than the United States.
  • U.S. males who took the TIMSS Advanced assessment in 2015 scored 455 points in physics, compared to 409 points for females. This 46-percentage-point difference was at the high end of the range of male-female differences across education systems in TIMSS Advanced, which otherwise ranged from 11 percentage points in Sweden to 35 percentage points in France (figure 18). Lebanon was the only education system in which there was no measurable male-female difference in average physics scores.

1 The advanced mathematics coverage index is the percentage of the corresponding age cohort covered by students in their final year of high school who are taking or have taken advanced mathematics courses. The corresponding age cohort is determined for education systems individually. In the United States, the corresponding age cohort is 18-year-olds. For additional details, see the Technical Notes available at http://nces.ed.gov/timss/timss15technotes.asp.

2 The physics coverage index is the percentage of the corresponding age cohort covered by students in their final year of high school who are taking or have taken physics courses. The corresponding age cohort is determined for education systems individually. In the United States, the corresponding age cohort is 18-year-olds. For additional details, see the Technical Notes available at http://nces.ed.gov/timss/timss15technotes.asp.