Science Benchmarking Report TIMSS 1999–Eighth Grade


© 2001 International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement (IEA)









Major Findings from the TIMSS 1999 Benchmarking Study

What Is TIMSS 1999 Benchmarking?

Why Did Countries, States, Districts, and Consortia Participate?

Which Countries, States, Districts, and Consortia Participated?

What Is the Relationship Between the TIMSS 1999 Data for the United States and the Data for the Benchmarking Study?

How Was the TIMSS 1999 Benchmarking Study Conducted?

What Was the Nature of the Science Test?

How Does TIMSS 1999 Compare with NAEP?

How Do Country Characteristics Differ?

How Do the Benchmarking Jurisdictions Compare on Demographic Indicators?

How Is the Report Organized?

How Do Participants Differ in Science Achievement?

How Do Benchmarking Participants Compare with International Benchmarks of Science Achievement?

What Are the Gender Differences in Science Achievement

Chapter 2: Performance at International Benchmarks

How Were the Benchmarks Developed?

How Should the Descriptions Be Interpreted?

Item Examples and Student Performance

Achievement at the Top 10% Benchmark

Achievement at the Upper Quarter Benchmark

Achievement at the Median Benchmark

Achievement at the Lower Quarter Benchmark

What Issues Emerge from the Benchmark Descriptions?

Chapter 3: Average Achievement in the Science Content Areas

How Does Achievement Differ Across Science Content Areas?

In Which Content Areas Are Countries Relatively Strong or Weak?

What Are the Gender Differences in Achievement for the Content Areas?

Chapter 4: Students’ Backgrounds and Attitudes Towards Science

What Educational Resources Do Students Have in Their Homes?

How Much of Their Out-of-School Time Do Students Spend on Homework During the School Week?

How Do Students Perceive Their Ability in the Sciences?

What Are Students’ Attitudes Towards the Sciences?

Chapter 5: The Science Curriculum

Science Subjects Offered Up To and Including Eighth Grade

Does Decision Making About the Intended Curriculum Take Place at the National, State, or Local Level?

How Do Education Systems Support and Monitor Curriculum Implementation?

What TIMSS 1999 Countries Have Assessments And Exams in Science?

What Benchmarking Jurisdictions Have Assessments in Science?

How Do Education Systems Deal with Individual Differences?

What Are the Major Characteristics of the Intended Curriculum?

What Science Content Do Teachers Emphasize at the Eighth Grade?

What Science Topics Are Included in the Intended Curriculum?

Have Students Been Taught the Topics Tested by TIMSS?

What Can Be Learned About the Science Curriculum?

Chapter 6: Teachers and Instruction

What Preparation Do Teachers Have for Teaching Science?

How Much School Time Is Devoted to Science Instruction?

What Activities Do Students Do in Their Science Lessons?

How Are Computers Used?

What Are the Roles of Homework and Assessment?

In What Types of Professional Development Activities Do U.S. Science Teachers Participate?

Chapter 7: School Contexts for Learning and Instruction

What Is the Economic Composition of the Student Body?

What School Resources Are Available to Support Science Learning?

What Is the Role of the School Principal?

What Are the Schools’ Expectations of Parents?

How Serious Are School Attendance Problems?

How Safe and Orderly Are Schools?

Reference 1: Studentsí Backgrounds and Attitudes Towards Science

Reference 2: The Science Curriculum

Reference 3: Teachers and Instruction

Reference 4: School Contexts for Learning and Instruction

Appendix A: Overview of TIMSS Benchmarking Procedures: Science Achievement


Participants in TIMSS Benchmarking

Developing the TIMSS 1999 Science Test

TIMSS Test Design

Background Questionnaires

Translation and Verification

Population Definition and Sampling

Data Collection

Scoring the Free-Response Items

Test Reliability

Data Processing

IRT Scaling and Data Analysis

Estimating Sampling Error

Making Multiple Comparisons

Setting International Benchmarks of Student Achievement

Science Curriculum Questionnaire

Appendix B: Multiple Comparisons of Average Achievement in Science Content Areas

Appendix C: Percentiles and Standard Deviations of Science Achievement

Appendix D: Descriptions of Science Items at Each Benchmark

Appendix E: Acknowledgments

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TIMSS 1999 is a project of the International Study Center
Boston College, Lynch School of Education