U.S. States in a Global Context: Results from the NAEP-TIMSS Linking Study

National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) Home Page, a part of the U.S. Department of EducationMuch has been made of the discrepancies between American students and foreign students in terms of their performance on key tests of academic performance. There has also been an ongoing argument between two sides of American education policy about whether the results that show American students falling behind are a condemnation of American education or are merely a politically-charged view of the data which does not do justice to the reality of the differences between the United States and other countries. The first group is represented by Marc Tucker and the second side is represented by Diane Ravitch.

With the results of a new linking study by NAEP-TIMSS, both sides may have more of the information they need to bolster their arguments.

With this new study, conducted in 2011, U.S. states can compare performance of their own students’ with those of various international educational entities. The linking study, an effort of the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), projects scores for the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) for each state, using data from the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP).

The NAEP-TIMSS Linking study provides a comparative picture of mathematics and science performance of students in all U.S. states against the students educated in about 50 countries. Results are presented by average scores and percentages of students performing at the four international benchmarks used in TIMSS.

Such linking studies have been done before, but typically on tests given in different years because of their staggered schedules. Both NAEP and TIMSS happened to fall in 2011, however, so this study is the first to link tests given in the same year.

As for some of the results, 8th grade students in 36 states outperformed the international average in math and those in 47 did so in science.

The federal report showcases the academic prowess of high-achieving states, such as Massachusetts, Minnesota, and Vermont, which outperformed all but five of 47 countries, provinces, and jurisdictions abroad in mathematics. The top performers in that subject were South Korea, Singapore, and Chinese Taipei (Taiwan).

At the same time, the study also highlights some states’ scholastic weaknesses. Alabama, Mississippi, and the District of Columbia, for instance, were the lowest-performing domestically in math. Countries such as Italy, Lithuania, and Hungary outperformed those U.S. systems in the subject.

Scholars will likely debate the results of this comprehensive new study in the coming months.

For more information, please see links below:

View and download U.S. States in a Global Context at this address: http://nces.ed.gov/pubsearch/pubsinfo.asp?pubid=2013460

or visit the NAEP TIMSS Linking Study page for additional resources and information on the report: http://nces.ed.gov/nationsreportcard/studies/naep_timss/