In Which Content Areas Are Students Relatively Strong or Weak?
For purposes of comparison, Exhibit 3.2 profiles the relative performance in mathematics content areas within the comparison countries, while Exhibit 3.3 provides the corresponding information for the Benchmarking states and Exhibit 3.4 for the districts and consortia. These exhibits display the difference between average performance in each content area and average mathematics performance overall, highlighting any variation. The profiles reveal that as in the participating countries, students in many of the Benchmarking jurisdictions performed relatively better or worse in several content areas than they did overall. For example, students in all the Benchmarking entities generally followed the U.S. pattern of performing better than they did overall in fractions and number sense; data representation, analysis, and probability; and algebra, but less well in measurement and geometry.
In particular, a number of jurisdictions had relatively worse geometry performance, including Connecticut, Idaho, Indiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Missouri, and Pennsylvania among the states. Districts and consortia with such results were the Academy School District, the Delaware Science Coalition, First in the World, the Fremont/Lincoln/Westside Public Schools, the Michigan Invitational Group, Montgomery County, Naperville, and Project SMART. Students relatively low achievement in geometry is most likely related to less coverage of geometry topics in mathematics classrooms (see Chapter 5).
Among other notable findings, students in North and South Carolina did relatively well in algebra compared with their overall performance, and those in the Rochester City School District had particular difficulty in the area of measurement. Differences in relative performance may be related to one or more of a number of factors, such as emphases in intended curricula or widely used textbooks, strengths or weaknesses in curriculum implementation, and the grade level at which topics are introduced. For the Benchmarking entities, the patterns of relative strengths and weaknesses profiled in Exhibits 3.3 and 3.4 are sometimes reflected in strengths and weaknesses relative to other countries and the United States (shown in Exhibit 3.1).
TIMSS 1999 is a project of the International
Boston College, Lynch School of Education