Saturday, February 19, 2011: 2:30 PM
102A (Washington Convention Center )
TIMSS and TIMSS Advanced are international comparative studies of students’ performance in mathematics and science in grade 4, 8 and at the end of upper secondary school. These international comparative studies under the auspices of IEA (International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement) were carried out for the first time in 1995. TIMSS is an abbreviation for Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study, while ‘Advanced’ refers to the fact that the study relates to students selecting to specialize in mathematics or physics in the upper secondary school. TIMSS is a major source of information about level of achievement in mathematics and science, in Norway as in many other countries. Decrease in Norwegian students’ achievement in mathematics and science have been measured since the mid 1990s, at all levels in school. The decrease in achievement has been discussed for many years, after the results in TIMSS Advanced 2008 were published more than ever. The reason for that was probably that by participating in TIMSS Advanced 2008 Norway got a consistent picture of trends in education in mathematics and science for all levels in school. We got documentation of how results in upper secondary school were heavily influenced by education at lower levels in school; it seems to be a common culture for how instruction in school was carried out.
I will present results based on analyses of data from TIMSS Advanced and TIMSS with a main focus on what Norway learned from these studies. We learned that there has not been enough focus on basic skills in Norwegian schools, as well as on discussions and arguing in the classroom on how to solve problems. It also became obvious that more attention should be on homework, amount of homework as well as content and how to give students feedback on their work. The Directorate for education initiated local conferences different places in Norway funded by money from the Ministry to present the results from TIMSS Advanced and TIMSS. This was the first time we have had these types of conferences, with teachers at all levels in school attending. Today it seems to be an agreement among politicians, school administrators, teacher educators, teachers, and researchers that we have to solve our problems in education with respect to mathematics and science. Before we presented results also for students in the final years of upper secondary school the importance of how to educate experts in mathematics and science had not been taken seriously enough. Participation in TIMSS Advance changed this for the better.