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.