© 2001 International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement (IEA)
What Mathematics Topics Are Included in the Intended Curriculum?
In the course of their meetings on planning and implementation of TIMSS 1999, the National Research Coordinators developed a list of mathematics topics that they agreed covered most of the content in the intended mathematics curriculum in their respective countries. These topics, presented in Exhibit 5.18, built on the topics covered in the TIMSS 1995 mathematics test and included in the teacher questionnaire. They represent all topics likely to have been included in the curricula of the 38 participating countries up to and including eighth grade. From the following choices, the coordinators from the participating entities indicated the percentages of students in their own countries or jurisdictions expected to have been taught each topic up to and including eighth grade:
Exhibit 5.19 summarizes the data according to the percentage of topics intended to be taught to all or almost all students (at least 90 percent) in each entity, across the entire list of topics and for each content area. Information on specific topics in the intended curricula for each content area is presented in Exhibits R2.2 through R2.6 in the reference section of this report.
Internationally on average, curricular guidelines up to and including eighth grade called for nearly all students to have been taught three-fourths of the topics overall. The greatest percentage of topics intended to be taught to 90 percent or more of the students was in fractions and number sense (86 percent, on average across countries) and in measurement (83 percent). About two-thirds of the topics in geometry (67 percent) and algebra (68 percent), internationally on average, were expected to have been taught to nearly all students. Four of the comparison countries, Italy, Japan, Korea, and Singapore, reported that at least 10 of the 11 algebra topics (91 percent ore more) were intended to be taught to at least 90 percent of the students.
In the United States overall, 93 percent of the mathematics topics
compared with the international average of 75 percent
were intended to be taught to 90 percent or more of the students.
This relatively high level of coverage resulted from the inclusion
of 100 percent of the topics in fractions and number sense, measurement,
and data representation, analysis, and probability, and more than
80 percent of the topics in geometry and algebra. These
results are supported by research based on TIMSS data from 1995 that
shows that the U.S. is one of a number of countries whose mathematics
curricula cover many topics each year and are comparatively more diverse
than the curricula of many
Benchmarking participants generally resembled the United States in topic coverage in the intended curriculum, although there were differences, particularly among the districts and consortia. With Connecticut the sole exception, all Benchmarking jurisdictions reported that at least 88 percent of the fractions and number sense topics were included in the curriculum for almost all students. Data representation, analysis, and probability was included in the curriculum for almost all students in almost all Benchmarking jurisdictions, but the coverage of geometry and algebra was much more variable. Among states the percentage of geometry topics intended for almost all students ranged from 54 percent in Idaho to 100 percent in Pennsylvania, and among districts and consortia from 46 percent in Chicago to 85 percent in First in the World, Jersey City, Miami-Dade, Montgomery County, and Naperville. Among states the percentage of algebra topics included ranged from 55 percent in Massachusetts and Missouri to 100 percent in Illinois and Pennsylvania, and among districts and consortia from just nine percent in Chicago to 91 percent in the Delaware Science Coalition, First in the World, and Miami-Dade.
It should be noted that some countries reported having different curricula or different levels of curriculum for different groups of students, as detailed in Exhibit 5.14. Not surprisingly, then, these countries often reported that about half, only the more able (25 percent), or the top 10 percent of students were expected to have been taught substantial percentages of the topics, in particular those in geometry and algebra. The two comparison countries with the lowest percentages of topics overall intended to be taught to nearly all students have differentiated curricula (England and the Netherlands). It should also be noted that if content within a topic area required different responses, coordinators from participating entities chose the response that best represented the entire topic area and noted the discrepancy (see Exhibit A.8 in the appendix for details).
TIMSS 1999 is a project of the International
Boston College, Lynch School of Education