TIMSS 2003
Released Items

Questionnaire Cover

The TIMSS Tests

The TIMSS 2003 tests in mathematics and science were based on the TIMSS Assessment Frameworks and Specifications 2003 and were developed through an international consensus-building process involving input from experts in education, mathematics, science, and measurement. The tests contain questions requiring students to select appropriate responses or to solve problems and answer questions in an open-ended format.

The TIMSS 2003 tests were prepared in English and translated into 34 languages. Each item is reproduced for the released item set as it was presented to each of the TIMSS countries. In translating the tests or making adaptations for cultural purposes, every effort was made to ensure that the meaning and difficulty of items did not change. This process required an enormous effort by the national centers, with many checks made along the way including a rigorous translation verification process.

Download Released Item Sets

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Framwork Cover

To view or download one or more of the released item sets,
please use the links below.

Grade 4 Released Items

Grade 8 Released Items

Item Documentation

Across the top of each item is shown documentation about the item: its unique identification number, subject and grade, block number, and sequence number within the block. To the right of each item is shown additional information about the item: the content domain, main topic, cognitive domain, and key. For multiple-choice items, the key for the correct answer is provided. For constructed-response questions, the scoring guide identifying categories of responses and their codes is shown on the page following the item.

The TIMSS General Scoring Method

Both short-answer items and extended-response items are included in the assessment. Short-answer items typically are worth one score point and require a numerical response in mathematics or a brief descriptive response in science. Extended-response items are worth a maximum of two score points and require students to show their work or provide explanations using words and/or diagrams to demonstrate their conceptual and procedural knowledge.

Each constructed-response item has its own scoring guide that utilizes a two-digit scoring scheme to provide diagnostic information. The first digit designates the correctness level of the response: 2 for a two-point response, 1 for a 1-point response, and 7 for an incorrect response. The second digit, combined with the first, represents a diagnostic code used to identify specific types of approaches, strategies, or common errors and misconceptions. A second digit of 0-5 may be used for pre-defined international codes at each correctness level, while a second digit of 9 corresponds to “other” types of responses that fall within the appropriate correctness level but do not fit any of the pre-defined international codes. In general, only a few diagnostic codes are used to track high-frequency correct or partial approaches or common misconceptions and errors, and a particular effort was made in TIMSS 2003 to minimize the number of diagnostic codes used.

Assessment Design

The TIMSS design for 2003 divides the 313 items at fourth grade and 383 items at eighth grade into 28 item blocks at each grade, 14 mathematics blocks labeled M01 through M14, and 14 science blocks labeled S01 through S14. Each block contains either mathematics items only or science items only. This general block design is the same for both grades, although the assessment time is 12 minutes for fourth-grade blocks and 15 minutes for eighth-grade blocks. At the eighth grade, six blocks in each subject (blocks 01 – 06) contain secure items from 1995 and 1999 to measure trends and eight blocks (07 – 14) contain new items developed for TIMSS 2003. Since fourth grade was not included in the 1999 assessment, trend items from 1995 only were available, and these were placed in the first three blocks. The remaining 11 blocks contain items new in 2003.

In the TIMSS 2003 design, the 28 blocks of items are distributed across 12 student booklets. Each booklet consists of six blocks of items. To enable linking between booklets, each block appears in two, three, or four different booklets. The assessment time for individual students is 72 minutes at fourth grade and 90 minutes at eighth grade, which is comparable to that in the 1995 and 1999 assessments

Item Release Policy

TIMSS 2003 is the third assessment in a series of regular four-year studies, providing trend data from 1995 and 1999. As in previous assessments, the design for TIMSS 2003 and beyond (2007, 2011, etc.) provides for retaining some of the items for the measurement of trend and releasing some items into the public domain. In TIMSS 2003, half of the 14 assessment blocks in each subject are released. The released blocks include all three mathematics and three science blocks containing trend items from 1995 (blocks M01 – M03, S01 – S03), one mathematics and one science block of trend items from 1999 (blocks M04 and S04) for eighth grade only, and three blocks of new mathematics and science items and tasks developed for 2003 (blocks M09, M10, and M13; S09, S10, and S13). As item blocks are released, new items will be developed to take their place, and the release policy for future assessments results in item blocks being cycled out after three assessments.

In the assignment of items to blocks in TIMSS 2003, particular attention was paid to balancing the blocks with respect to content domain to ensure that adequate numbers of items are held secure in each area for the purposes of measuring trend in future studies. The released item sets provide valuable information for interpreting the international and national reports and for use in secondary analyses. Therefore, it is also important that the released sets be representative of the overall tests to provide as much information as possible about the nature and scope of the tests. Approximately half of the items overall and in each content domain are released and half are kept secure.

For more information about test development, scoring, assessment design, and release of items, please see Chapter 2, Developing the TIMSS 2003 Mathematics and Science Assessment and Scoring Guides, in the TIMSS 2003 Technical Report.