Among Top Ten Countries In Maths And Science
The longest-running large-scale international assessment on science and maths shows that Australia has made significant improvements in science and maths for Year 8.
The Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) was attended by more than 580,000 students representing 64 countries. This includes 14,950 students from 571 Australian high schools.
Australia was equal seventh in Year 8 maths in the 2019 assessment cycle. This is an increase from the 13th place in 2015. We were behind Korea, Japan and Hong Kong, as well as Ireland, Korean Taipei (Taiwan), Korea and Japan.
Australia was also equal seventh in Year 8 science (up from equal fifteenth in 2015), along with other countries like Ireland, Lithuania, and the US. We came in behind Japan, Korea and Finland, Chinese Taipei, Japan and Korea.
Australia was equal ninth in Year 4 science (up from equal 18th 2015). This was alongside countries such as the USA, England, Hong Kong, Ireland, and Hong Kong. Australia came in behind Norway, Singapore, Korea and Russia.
However, the achievement rate in Year 4 maths has not changed from 2007. Similar to 2015, Australia was outperformed in 2019 by 22 other countries. It was equal 23rd in 2019, just like 2015, and behind countries like Canada, Germany, Poland, and Canada.
It’s Not Just About The Rankings Science
The TIMSS test is being administered for the seventh time. In addition to taking science and math tests, students in Year 4 and 8 take TIMSS questionnaires about their experiences and background in maths or science.
Australia can participate in TIMSS to track its progress towards national education goals. This included the Melbourne Declaration on Educational Goals for Young Australians (now called the Mparntwe Education Declaration).
Australian students scored 516 points on average in Year 4 maths. Singapore students had 625 points on average, Canada scored 512, and New Zealand got 487.
Australia had a score of 517 points in Year 8 maths. This compares to 616 points Singapore, which had the highest score. The score of Australia was not significantly different from that of England and the United States, which each scored 515 points.
Improve In Science
Australia did not only improve in science and maths in Year 8, and in science in Year 4, relative to other countries. It also improved in absolute terms. Australia’s average score rose 12 points in year 8 maths, 16 points in year 8 science, and nine points for Year 4 science compared to 2015.
The 475 score point TIMSS intermediate international benchmark, which is nationally recognize as the proficient standard for science and maths achievement, is 475. Between 68% and 78%, Australian students attained the proficiency benchmarks in science and maths at both year-levels in 2019. This benchmark was achieve by more than 90% of Singaporean students in both science and maths at both the year-levels.
In Year 8 science, the percentage of Australian students who have achieved this standard has increased by five percentage points since 2015. This did not change in either Year 4 science or 8 maths.
TIMSS results provide a measure Australia’s progress towards the United Nations 2030 Sustainable Development Goal (universal quality education) The TIMSS low international benchmark, which is an internationally accepted indicator of minimal proficiency in maths at the conclusion of lower secondary schooling, is a global indicator.
The benchmark was achieve by 90% of Australian Year 8 students in the 2019 study. This is similar to 2015, but slightly higher than the international median of 87% for 2019. In Japan, however, only 98% of Year 8 students from Singapore and Chinese Taipei achieved the minimum proficiency in maths.
Differences Between Groups
These findings are positive but there are warning signs when comparing demographic groups. The average Australian girl’s performance in Year 8 maths and Year 4 science was the same as that of Australian boys. In 27 of the 58 countries that participated, Australia included, boys outperformed their female counterparts in Year 4 mathematics.
For both boys and girls, the proportion of students who reached the national proficient standard was roughly equal (69% for girls, 70% respectively). However, the percentage of boys who reached the advanced benchmark (12%) was much higher than that of girls (8%) who did so.
Although the achievements of First Nations Australian students have converged in science in Year 4 and 8 since 1995. There are still significant gaps in mathematics and in other subject areas.
42% of First Nations students at Year 4 in maths achieved the national proficient level. Compared with 72% of Australian students. 25 percent of First Nations students failed to meet the benchmark, as compared with 8% of Australian students.
For Year 8 maths, 39% of First Nations students, compared with 70% of Australian students, achieved the National Proficient standard. However, 29% of First Nations students, compared to 8% for other Australian students, did not reach the Low benchmark.