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Next Steps for TIMSS: Directions for Secondary Analysis Summary BICSE has identified three distinct reasons why the data from TIMSS are valuable. First, teachers, administrators, and others directly involved in schooling can benefit not only from any definitive empirical findings about teaching methods, teacher development, curriculum structure, and many other issues, but also from simply seeing examples of the many alternative approaches to teaching, curriculum design, and the like, that their counterparts around the world have devised. Second, on a somewhat broader scale, policy makers are clearly in search of generalizable empirical findings that can assist them in making difficult decisions and addressing problems. Finally, the pursuit of knowledge about the structure, theory, and practice of education will have benefits in both the short and long term, not only by satisfying the curiosity of scholars—and generating new questions for them to ponder—but by providing the basis for the empirical findings and innovations that fuel progress in education reform. But, as this report was designed to demonstrate, the work of TIMSS is not complete. The possible benefits of TIMSS will not accrue automatically. TIMSS is complex for important reasons, and consequently easy to misunderstand. Because of its multidisciplinary design, it offers the possibility of comparative insights deeply rooted in the differing contexts that affect student learning. If the tantalizing links among its components can be realized, it offers the possibility of moving comparative research methodology forward in significant ways. These goals can be reached only through further analyses of the data, and such research costs money. The board is surprised that funds have not already been earmarked for secondary research; the examples of many other countries in which secondary research is already well under way only reinforce the point that the United States lags behind. The research is needed not only to obtain further benefits from TIMSS, but also to keep it from being used in ways that are misleading. TIMSS was a vast, collaborative effort; further collaboration is needed to reap its full benefits. This report has described the approaches to follow-up research based on TIMSS that BICSE believes have the most potential value, and has provided examples of possible specific directions that such research might take. The premises underlying the specific recommendations can be summarized in three simple points: Further research is needed in order both to rigorously evaluate existing knowledge claims and to generate and evaluate other hypotheses. Further research is needed to explore in detail the possibilities for links among the different studies that make up TIMSS.
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Next Steps for TIMSS: Directions for Secondary Analysis Further funding is needed to make the realization of the goals described in the first two recommendations possible. This funding should be directed toward two targets. First, it should facilitate the release of TIMSS datasets in easily accessible formats to encourage secondary data analysis. Second, it should support centers or teams of investigators committed to undertaking research that follows up on the data from TIMSS. The board is eager to see the TIMSS data continue to benefit both the research and policy communities and hopes, through these recommendations, to contribute to this process.
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