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SINGAPORE'S ACHIEVEMENT IN THE THIRD INTERNATIONAL MATHEMATICS AND SCIENCE STUDY (TIMSS)

Overall Achievement

1) Singapore shared the top spot with Korea in mathematics and was seventh in science in an international study for 9-year-old students. This study, known as the Third International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS), is the largest international study of standards of performance in mathematics and science conducted to date.

2) The study was conducted by the International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement (IEA). IEA is an international authority on the study of educational standards and it has 53 institutional members including countries like Singapore, the United States, France, Germany and Japan. Its headquarters is in Amsterdam, the Netherlands.

3) In October 1994, 14,500 9-year-old students in Pri 3 and Pri 4, and 8,500
13-year-old students in Sec 1 and 2 in Singapore sat for tests in mathematics and science, along with half a million students from 44 other countries.

4) For the 9-year-olds, Asian students generally did very well in the mathematics section, with Singapore, Korea, Japan and Hong Kong occupying the top positions. For science, the Asian countries continued to do well, with Korea and Japan at the top of the table while Singapore was seventh. Science is taught only from Pri 3 in Singapore, compared with most of the other participating countries which begin teaching science from the first grade.

5) Singapore students have done well in the TIMSS tests for 9-year-old students.

At both Pri 3 and Pri 4, almost 40% of the students in Singapore were placed in the top 10% for mathematics; for science, 11% of our students were placed in the top 10%.
In mathematics, the Pri 3 students in Singapore obtained correct answers to 62% of the questions compared to the international average of 47%. The
Pri 4 students did equally well, with 76% correct answers compared to 59% at the international level.
In science, the Pri 3 students in Singapore obtained correct answers to 53% of the questions compared to the international average of 50%. The Pri 4 students obtained 64% correct answers compared to 59% at the international level.


Other Key Findings

Increase in Performance

6) In the TIMSS results for grades 7 and 8 (i.e. Sec 1 and 2 in Singapore) released in November 1996, Singapore was top in mathematics and science for both grades. Based on the performance of students in both grades 4 and 8, the study estimated the increase in mathematics and science achievement between the two grades. Singapore's estimated increase was among the largest for mathematics and science. The performance increase of Singapore's students indicates that delaying the learning of science to Pri 3, so as to give more time to the learning of the languages and mathematics in Pri 1 and 2, did not disadvantage pupils subsequently as they advance through the school system in Singapore.

Gender

7) For Singapore students, boys and girls performed equally well in the tests. In many of the participating countries, however, boys performed better than girls, not only in mathematics but in science as well.

Teachers

8) The study also showed that our teachers work very hard. Among the TIMSS countries, Pri 4 mathematics and science teachers in Singapore reported among the highest number of hours (10 hours per week) spent on marking student work and tests, and planning lessons.

Ranking of Countries by Mathematics Achievement (by Grade)*

Grade 3 (Pri 3)

Grade 4 (Pri 4)

Position

Country

Position

Country

1

Korea

1

Singapore

2

Singapore

2

Korea

3

Japan

3

Japan

4

Hong Kong

4

Hong Kong

5

Czech Republic

5

Czech Republic

6

United States

6

United States

7

Ireland

7

Ireland

8

Canada

8

Canada

9

England

9

England

10

New Zealand

10

New Zealand

11

Cyprus

11

Cyprus

12

Greece

12

Greece

13

Portugal

13

Portugal

14

Norway

14

Norway

15

Iceland

15

Iceland

16

Iran, Islamic Rep.

16

Iran, Islamic Rep.

*This table does not include 8 countries at grade 3 and 9 countries at grade 4 as their samples did not satisfy the international guidelines.

Ranking of Countries by Science Achievement (by Grade)**

Grade 3 (Pri 3)

Grade 4 (Pri 4)

Position

Country

Position

Country

1

Korea

1

Korea

2

Japan

2

Japan

3

United States

3

United States

4

England

4

England

5

Czech Republic

5

Czech Republic

6

Canada

6

Canada

7

Singapore

7

Singapore

8

Hong Kong

8

Hong Kong

9

Ireland

9

Ireland

10

New Zealand

10

New Zealand

11

Norway

11

Norway

12

Greece

12

Greece

13

Iceland

13

Iceland

14

Portugal

14

Portugal

15

Cyprus

15

Cyprus

16

Iran, Islamic Rep.

16

Iran, Islamic Rep.

**This table does not include 8 countries at grade 3 and 9 countries at grade 4 as their samples did not satisfy the international guidelines.


 
 

Page Last Updated : 22-Jul-2004

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