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Global Perspectives for Local Action: Using TIMSS to Improve U.S. Mathematics and Science Education GLOBAL PERSPECTIVES for LOCAL ACTION Using TIMSS to Improve U.S. Mathematics and Science Education A joint project of the Committee on Science Education K-12 and the Mathematical Sciences Education Board Continuing to Learn from TIMSS Committee Center for Science, Mathematics, and Engineering Education National Research Council NATIONAL ACADEMY PRESS Washington, D.C.
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Global Perspectives for Local Action: Using TIMSS to Improve U.S. Mathematics and Science Education NOTICE: The project that is the subject of this report was approved by the Governing Board of the National Research Council, whose members are drawn from the councils of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine. The members of the committee responsible for the report were chosen for their special competences and with regard for appropriate balance. The National Research Council (NRC) is the operating arm of the National Academies complex, which includes the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine. The National Research Council was organized in 1916 by the National Academy of Sciences to associate the broad community of science and technology with the Academy’s purposes of furthering knowledge and providing impartial advice to the federal government. Functioning in accordance with general policies determined by the Academy, the Council has become the principal operating agency of both the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering in providing services to the government, the public, and the scientific and engineering communities. The Council is administered jointly by both Academies and the Institute of Medicine. Dr. Bruce M. Alberts, president of the National Academy of Sciences, and Dr. William Wulf, president of the National Academy of Engineering, also serve as chairman and vice-chairman, respectively, of the National Research Council. The Center for Science, Mathematics, and Engineering Education was established in 1995 to provide coordination of all the National Research Council’s education activities and reform efforts for students at all levels, specifically those in kindergarten through twelfth grade, undergraduate institutions, school-to-work programs, and continuing education. The center reports directly to the Governing Board of the National Research Council. This study was conducted by the Continuing to Learn from TIMSS Committee through a grant from the U.S. Department of Education (grant number R215U970015) to the National Academy of Sciences/National Research Council. Any opinions, findings, or recommendations expressed in this report are those of the members of the committee and do not necessarily reflect the views of the U.S. Department of Education. Copies of this report are available online from the Center for Science, Mathematics, and Engineering Education’s Web page at <http://www4.nas.edu/csmee/center.nsf> or at <http://www.nap.edu>. International Standard Book Number 0-309-06530-5 Additional copies of this report are available from: National Academy Press 2101 Constitution Ave., N.W. Washington, D.C. 20055 Call 800-624-6242 or 202-334-3313 (in the Washington metropolitan area). Copyright 1999 by the National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved. Printed in the United States of America. Recommended citation: National Research Council. 1999. Global Perspectives for Local Action: Using TIMSS to Improve U.S. Mathematics and Science Education. Washington, D.C.: National Academy Press.
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Global Perspectives for Local Action: Using TIMSS to Improve U.S. Mathematics and Science Education CONTINUING TO LEARN FROM TIMSS COMMITTEE Melvin D. George (Chair), University of Missouri, Columbia, MO John R. Brackett, Lake Shore Public Schools, St. Clair Shores, MI James Hiebert, University of Delaware, Newark, DE Mark L. Kaufman, Eisenhower Regional Alliance for Mathematics and Science Education Reform, TERC, Cambridge, MA William Linder-Scholer, SciMathMN, Roseville, MN Mary M. Lindquist, Columbus State University, Columbus, GA Michael E. Martinez, University of California, Irvine, CA Lynn W. Paine, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI Deborah Patonai Phillips, St. Vincent-St. Mary High School, Akron, OH Senta A. Raizen, National Center for Improving Science Education, Washington, DC Thomas H. Saterfiel, American College Testing, Inc., Iowa City, IA Thomasena Woods, Newport News Public Schools, Newport News, VA Staff Harold Pratt, Project Director Alfred Young, Administrative Assistant Steve Olson, Consultant Writer Diane S. Mann, Financial Officer COMMITTEE ON SCIENCE EDUCATION K-12 Jane Butler Kahle (Chair), Miami University, Oxford, OH J. Myron Atkin, Stanford University, Stanford, CA Caryl Edward Buchwald, Carleton College, Northfield, MN George Bugliarello, Polytechnic University, Brooklyn, NY Beatriz Chu Clewell, The Urban Institute, Washington, DC William E. Dugger, Technology for All Americans, Blacksburg, VA Norman Hackerman, The Robert A. Welch Foundation, Houston, TX Leroy Hood, University of Washington, Seattle, WA William Linder-Scholer, SciMathMN, Roseville, MN Maria Alicia Lopez Freeman, Center for Teacher Leadership in Language and Status, California Science Project, Monterey Park, CA John A. Moore, University of California, Riverside, CA Darlene Norfleet, Flynn Park Elementary School, University City, MO
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Global Perspectives for Local Action: Using TIMSS to Improve U.S. Mathematics and Science Education Carolyn Ray, Urban Systemic Initiative, Cleveland, OH Cary Sneider, Boston Museum of Science, Boston, MA Rachel Wood, Delaware State Department of Public Instruction, Dover, DE Robert Yinger, School of Education, Baylor University, Waco, TX MATHEMATICAL SCIENCES EDUCATION BOARD Hyman Bass (Chair), Columbia University, New York, NY Jere Confrey (Vice-Chair), University of Texas, Austin, TX Richard A. Askey, University of Wisconsin, Madison, WI Sherry Baca, Prescott Unified School District, Prescott, AZ Deborah Loewenberg Ball, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI Benjamin Blackhawk, St. Paul Academy and Summit School, St. Paul, MN Richelle Blair, Lakeland Community College, Kirtland, OH Patricia Campbell, University of Maryland, College Park, MD Ingrid Daubechies, Princeton University, Princeton, NJ Karen Economopoulos, TERC, Cambridge, MA Susan Eyestone, National Parents Teachers Association (PTA), Minneapolis, MN Lee Jenkins, Enterprise School District, Redding, CA Glenda T. Lappan, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI Miriam Masullo, T. J. Watson Research Center, IBM Corporation, Yorktown Heights, NY David Moore, Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN Mari Muri, Connecticut Department of Education, Hartford, CT Richard Normington, TQM Services Group, Sacramento, CA Mark Saul, Bronxville Public Schools, Bronxville, NY Richard Schoen, Stanford University, Stanford, CA Edward A. Silver, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA William Tate, University of Wisconsin, Madison, WI Jerry Uhl, University of Illinois, Urbana, IL Susan S. Wood, J. Sargeant Reynolds Community College, Richmond, VA
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Global Perspectives for Local Action: Using TIMSS to Improve U.S. Mathematics and Science Education Reviewers This report was reviewed in draft form by individuals chosen for their diverse perspectives and technical expertise, in accordance with procedures approved by the National Research Council's Report Review Committee. The purpose of this independent review is to provide candid and critical comments that will assist the institution in making the published report as sound as possible and to ensure that the report meets institutional standards for objectivity, evidence, and responsiveness to the study charge. The review comments and draft manuscript remain confidential to protect the integrity of the deliberative process. We thank the following individuals for their participation in the review of this report: Shelley K. Ferguson, National Council of Teachers of Mathematics Donald Gentry, Poly Met Mining Corporation Dorothy M. Gilford, Gilford Associates
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Global Perspectives for Local Action: Using TIMSS to Improve U.S. Mathematics and Science Education Henry Heikkinen, University of Northern Colorado Carol R. Johnson, Minneapolis Public Schools Lyle V. Jones, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill Leon Lederman, Illinois Mathematics & Science Academy, Illinois Institute of Technology, and Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory Alfred Manaster, University of California, San Diego Richard McCray, University of Colorado, Denver Laurie Peterman, SciMathMN Francisco Ramirez, Stanford University Harold Stevenson, University of Michigan Juliana Texley, Anchor Bay School District While the individuals listed above provided many constructive comments and suggestions, responsibility for the final content of this report rests solely with the authoring committee and the National Research Council.
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Global Perspectives for Local Action: Using TIMSS to Improve U.S. Mathematics and Science Education Contents PREFACE ix EXECUTIVE SUMMARY 1 1 WHAT IS TIMSS? 9 2 WHAT DOES TIMSS SAY ABOUT STUDENT ACHIEVEMENT? 19 3 WHAT DOES TIMSS SAY ABOUT THE MATHEMATICS AND SCIENCE CURRICULUM? 30 4 WHAT DOES TIMSS SAY ABOUT INSTRUCTIONAL PRACTICES? 44 5 WHAT DOES TIMSS SAY ABOUT SCHOOL SUPPORT SYSTEMS? 64 6 FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ABOUT TIMSS 80 REFERENCES 87
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Global Perspectives for Local Action: Using TIMSS to Improve U.S. Mathematics and Science Education Preface Many words already have been written about the results of TIMSS, the Third International Mathematics and Science Study. By now, many Americans know that U.S. eighth graders and twelfth graders did not perform very well, compared with students in other developed nations, on the achievement tests that were central to TIMSS. The reasons for this unsatisfactory performance are not nearly as clear as the results themselves. In one state the legislature unilaterally lengthened the school year, at least in part because it assumed that the relatively unsatisfactory performance of U.S. students is a result of spending less time on academic content than do students in other countries, even though the results of TIMSS demonstrate otherwise. Several commentators and officials have stated that U.S. mathematics and science education suffers from curricula that, particularly in mathematics, attempt to cover too many topics
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Global Perspectives for Local Action: Using TIMSS to Improve U.S. Mathematics and Science Education at too superficial a level. Some observers have sought to use information from TIMSS to find fault with teacher preparation or student attitudes. Such inferences of cause and effect do not reflect either the complexity of the problem or the richness of the TIMSS results. This report has been produced at the request of the U.S. Department of Education by the National Research Council's Center for Science, Mathematics, and Engineering Education (CSMEE). Within CSMEE, the Mathematical Sciences Education Board and the Committee on Science Education K-12 acted together to form the Continuing to Learn from TIMSS Committee. The charge to the committee was to help make the findings of TIMSS relevant and useful to leaders in K-12 mathematics and science education and to promote continued public discussion of the many components of TIMSS. As such, the committee has sought to further the center's mission of providing policy analysis and advice through synthesis and interpretation of research so as to promote standards-based reform in mathematics and science education. The results of TIMSS have direct implications for the implementation of national and state standards in mathematics and science. The TIMSS data relate to the content knowledge and skills of students, the characteristics of mathematics and science curricula, the instructional practices used by teachers, and an array of support issues, including the professional development of teachers. Standards-based reform requires a careful examination of all these aspects of education rather than attempting to focus on one simple change intended to increase student learning. Given this overall context, this report has several specific objectives that distinguish it from other volumes written about TIMSS. First, this report takes a comprehensive approach to the information generated by TIMSS. It covers all three of the student groups assessed by TIMSS and all of the components of TIMSS, though it does not attempt to deal with all of the tremendous amount of data generated by TIMSS. It highlights important features of the data and stresses the potential uses of the complete TIMSS material, with a focus on areas the committee judged most closely related to student learning in mathematics and science. The committee recognizes that other studies and research results shed light on how to improve the U.S. educational system, but our assignment was to draw specifically on the findings of TIMSS, and we have not gone beyond that charge. Second, this report is directed to a broad range of stakeholders. It contains material of interest to teachers, parents, administrators, policymakers, curriculum developers, textbook writers, teacher educators, and faculty in institutions of higher education. These stakeholders have many questions about U.S. education. Teachers ask, "Are we teaching too many topics?" Administrators ask, "Should there be additional assessments of student performance?" Policymakers ask, "Should we raise standards for teacher preparation and enhancement, particularly in the areas of mathematics and science?'' Parents ask, "Are my children getting the education they will need to lead successful lives?" This report extracts information from the TIMSS data that can inform the answers to such questions.
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Global Perspectives for Local Action: Using TIMSS to Improve U.S. Mathematics and Science Education Finally, this report attempts to inform rather than prescribe. It does not make recommendations for how to reform U.S. education; nor does it lay out a research agenda that would lead to such recommendations. Rather, it illuminates and broadens the range of possibilities to be considered by decisionmakers, whether in the classroom, the boardroom, or the legislative hall. One of the historical problems of U.S. educational reform has been what might be called the pendulum phenomenon. Educational systems tend to overcorrect for what is seen as a problem and end up with a different situation that may be just as unsatisfactory! This report can help decisionmakers dampen the pendulum swings so that steady progress can be made toward a better education in science and mathematics for all students. This report is based on the premise that there are no panaceas. U.S. education is a complex of interrelated systems that require comprehensive and imaginative analysis and consideration. The results of TIMSS do not suggest that policymakers should replicate in the United States the educational systems of other countries. However, TIMSS can help educators, policymakers, parents, and the general public analyze U.S. education by looking at what is done in other nations. That way, stakeholders can see a wider variety of options than might otherwise be obvious and can understand what the TIMSS results suggest about those options. The report can be usefully read as a single document. At the same time, it is designed to be used with an accompanying professional development guide in workshops for groups of education decisionmakers. These workshops are meant to support long-range planning efforts aimed at two objectives. The first is to carry out careful local investigations into what is needed to improve mathematics and science achievement in particular schools. The second is to implement changes in schools based on the results of those investigations and on the science and mathematics standards. By providing information from TIMSS, this report can buttress the locally generated research needed to advance standards-based reform—a goal furthered by a November 1999 convocation at the National Academy of Sciences. The report contains an executive summary and six subsequent chapters. Chapter 1 is a description of the TIMSS project, the kinds of data collected, and the limitations of the data. Chapter 1 also contains references to a number of basic descriptions of TIMSS as well as to several publications that have discussed the validity of the study's results. Chapter 2 presents an overview and several detailed analyses of student achievement in mathematics and science. Following Chapter 2 are three chapters that present the central findings of this report. Chapter 3 looks at curriculum issues, asking how the substance and organization of what is taught in U.S. classrooms can affect student understanding in mathematics and science. Chapter 4 considers U.S. teaching practices, comparing the methods used in this country with those of other countries. Chapter 5 explores the broader educational and social context, such as the time given to various activities, the support given teachers, and student attitudes. Finally, Chapter 6 consists of
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Global Perspectives for Local Action: Using TIMSS to Improve U.S. Mathematics and Science Education a number of frequently asked questions about TIMSS with answers drawn from the information that appeared earlier in the report. The references in this report are intended to alert readers to previously published documents that corroborate and extend particular findings. In addition, a substantial portion of the analysis in this report comes from the unpublished papers commissioned by the committee. Analyses in this report that do not include references generally are based on new work included in these commissioned papers. The Executive Summary does not include references. References to the material included in the summary can be found in Chapters 1 through 5. To make this report as useful as possible to its broad range of intended readers, the information in this report is presented in several different ways. While this organization necessarily involves some repetition of ideas, it enables different audiences to use the report effectively and efficiently. The executive summary concludes with a reader's guide to the report, with suggestions of how the report can best be read. On behalf of the study committee, I acknowledge with deep appreciation the writers of the commissioned papers that formed the basis of our report—Edward Britton, John Dossey, James Hiebert, Jeremy Kilpatrick, Vilma Mesa, Lynn Paine, and Senta Raizen. In addition, we are grateful to those who led and participated in the focus groups that worked with a preliminary draft of this document and helped to improve it considerably. We especially thank project director Harold Pratt and the other dedicated center staff who helped produce the report; consultant Steve Olson, who provided major assistance in writing the report; and representatives of the U.S. Department of Education who worked closely with us on a complex project with a short timeline. All of us hope that this report and the sequence of publications and activities of which it is part will indeed help education leaders strengthen mathematics and science education for all students. Melvin D. George, Chair Continuing to Learn from Timss Committee
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Global Perspectives for Local Action: Using TIMSS to Improve U.S. Mathematics and Science Education GLOBAL PERSPECTIVES for LOCAL ACTION
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