- The 2015 Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) assessment tested fourth and eighth graders in math and science, as well as a subset of 12th graders who took advanced math, and results were released Tuesday.
- According to the National Center for Education Statistics, fourth graders showed long-term improvement, with average math scores increasing since 1995 but not measurably so since 2011, the last time they were tested. And eighth grade average scores have gone up in every testing period.
- Fourth grade science scores in 2015 were up from 2003 and 2007, but not measurably different from results in 1995 or 2011, and eighth grade scores were up from 1995, 1999 and 2007, but not 2003 or 2011 — both grade levels ranked eighth in the world compared to other countries tested, better than their rank in math.
In addition to the standard assessments, U.S. 12th graders took an advanced math assessment, ranking third worldwide but showing no measurable difference from scores in 1995. According to NCES, however, no country had higher average scores in 2015 than in 1995 and students in France, Italy and Sweden actually lost ground.
The assessment also revealed gender gaps in the United States among advanced math students that were higher than in any of the other eight countries that administered the test. A 30% difference separated boys and girls. Italy, Lebanon and Portgual, meanwhile, don’t have any measurable gender gaps at all in advanced math. In physics, the gap was even worse in the United States, though Lebanon was the only country that showed no gender difference at all. International scores for the Programme for International Student Assessment, or PISA, are expected Dec. 6, with results for 15-year-old math, science, and reading test takers.