California 8th graders ranked in the middle of the pack overall but behind seven of eight states in math and science in the latest international tests.

The rankings are based on the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) tests taken last year by a random selection of representative students from 56 countries and education systems, which included eight states and Canadian provinces.

Although the differences between rankings are sometimes only a matter of one or two points, California 8th graders had below-average scores in both subjects. They scored 493 in math, out of a possible 1,000, with 500 being the international average. They ranked 26th, behind 8th graders in 15 countries (including the United States) and 10 education systems (including seven states).

In science, they had a better score – 499 – but a lower ranking. They ranked 29th, behind students from 18 countries (including the United States) and 10 education systems, including seven states.

The education systems that ranked higher in both math and science included the same seven states: Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Indiana, Massachusetts, Minnesota and North Carolina. Alabama, the only other state that participated as a state, had average scores that were lower than California’s in math and science. The remaining education systems whose students outscored California’s 8th graders were Canadian provinces.

By contrast, U.S. 8th graders scored above average on both tests, ranking 9th in math and 10th in science compared with other countries. However, students in nine education systems, including the same seven states and two Canadian provinces, outscored U.S. 8th graders in math. In science, 8th graders in the same seven states and three Canadian provinces did better.

South Korean 8th graders had the top score (613) in math, and Singapore 8th graders led in science, with a score of 590. Countries with 8th graders who outscored both the U.S. and California students in both math and science included South Korea, Singapore, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Japan, Russia and Finland.

Only 7 percent of U.S. and 5 percent of California 8th graders reached the advanced level in math. Although these percentages were higher than the median, the United States lagged far behind some Asian nations. For example, 48 percent of Singapore’s students reached that level, as did 47 percent of South Korean test takers.

U.S. 4th graders also took TIMSS tests

U.S. 4th graders also took TIMSS math and science tests, but California did not participate as a state. The 4th graders scored above the international average, ranking 11th in math and 7th in science compared with other nations. However, North Carolina and Florida 4th graders did better than the United States as a whole in math. In science, Florida 4th graders performed better.




Filed under: Featured, Quick Hits, State and Federal Policies, STEM, Tests and Assessments · Tags: , , ,

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  1. Fred Sayre says:

    I’m 74 and attended grades K -12 in Sacramento, CA. I never heard a word or complaint about my teachers having to purchase teaching supplies. However, over the years I have heard, read and seen reports of such occurrences.
    Where online could I research the sources of all revenue that is allocated for schools statewide, by county and how the amount per school district is determined? This would be in addition to EdSources’ “A guide to local control funding.”

  2. Ryan says:

    California has some of the highest state taxes in the country. 50% of every tax dollar goes to schools. How can dollars spent per student be less than the other states? Something funny going on with the our tax dollars. Does this mean that a large part of the state is not paying any tax at all?

  3. Gary Ravani says:

    Mr. Davis:

    CA’s spending per student on K-12 education ranks 47th of the 50 states. That is, in cost-of-living weighted dollars. In unweighted dollars the state is several thousand dollars below the national average in per student spending. CA has been spending below the national average per student for K-12 since 1985.

    “Fruits, nuts, and flakes”…in terms of opinions…may be the result of not being familiar with the subject matter.

  4. Richard Moore says:


    Does poverty play a factor?

    How about school libraries?

    Have you ever herd of “background” or “context”?

  5. Brian T Davis, PhD says:

    How can this possibly be ???

    California represents the “progressive enlilghtened intelligensia”(or at least they claim).
    California has numerous state lotteries, all of which the proceeds go to education (or at least they claim).
    California spends more money on students than nearly any other state(or at least they claim).

    Hmm….make one wonder about the cereal state, the “land of fruits, nuts and flakes”…..