TIMSS: Always Claiming the Grass is Greener on the Other Side of the Globe

International science and environmental education have been a major focus of my professional work, and so when results on international comparisons are released by TIMSS (Math and Science, PIRLS (Reading), or PISA(Math, Reading & Science), I am eager to write about what these results mean.

On this website there have been many posts devoted to an analysis of international test results and the comparisons that fill the airwaves, the Internet and newspapers.  In the United States  (and in other countries as well) the perception of science (and mathematics) education is driven by published rankings based on science or mathematics achievement test scores.… Read more

Misconceptions about International Math & Science Test Scores

Why is it that the perception of science education in the U.S. (and other countries as well) is driven by rankings of students on international test score comparisons?  The perception is that U.S. students are not competitive in the global market place because of their position in the rankings of the scores obtained on tests such as PISA and TIMSS.

Yet, as Iris C. Rotberg has shown in her analysis of educational reforms on a global scale, most of the conclusions that we make based on international studies are not supported either by the findings or by research in general.… Read more

Why Do We Teach Science, Anyway? The Democratic Argument

There are at least two interpretations that emerge when we explore why we teach science from the democratic argument.   The first interpretation is that we should be teaching science to help students become informed citizens in an increasingly technocratic and scientific world, and provide them with the tools to intelligently discuss, vote on, and make decisions about “modern life, politics and society.” (Turner, p. 10.)  But we also interpret the democratic argument in the context of democratic schools–that is schools in which students and teachers participate equally in shared decision-making on matters related to the organization of school, the curriculum and related matters.… Read more

Progressive Science Education

I have been reading and have referenced on this weblog the October 2009 special issue of the Journal of Research in Science Teaching (JRST) on the topic/theme “Scientific Literacy and Contexts in PISA Science.”  The articles in the special issue provide a broad view of international testing as conceived in PISA, as well as the TIMSS.

One of the articles (by Sadler and Zeidler) which was focused on PISA and Socioscientific Discourse, used the term progressive science education as a way to describe a vision of science education that includes public understanding of science, humanistic science education, context-based science teaching, S-T-S, and socioscientific issues.  … Read more

Students Lag in Science So Says the National Center for Education Statistics

There was story on cnn.com today that caught my attention entitled U.S. students behind in math, science, analysis says.  The analysis was written by the National Center of Educational Statistics and was a summary analysis of several international assessments including the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS), and the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA, 2006 results).

The story was a report of a brief talk given by the U.S. Secretary of Education (Mr.… Read more

Science Scores on International Assessments: The Sky is Falling

In yesterday’s post, I described Science Debate 2008, and efforts to engage the two major candidates for President to answer 14 important questions about science.  The one question that focused on science education was as follows:

A comparison of 15-year-olds in 30 wealthy nations found that average science scores among U.S. students ranked 17th, while average U.S. math scores ranked 24th.  What role do you think the federal government should play in preparing K-12 students for the science and technology driven 21st Century?

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Reform in Science Teaching, What Does Research Tell Us? Look to a New Cadre’

This issue (March, 2007) of the Journal of Research in Science Teaching had two articles that investigated the effects of science education reform in the United States. The first of the two studies, Can professional development make the vision of the standards a reality? The impact of the national science foundation’s local systemic change through teacher enhancement initiative by Eric R. Banilower, Daniel J. Heck, and Iris R. Weiss investigated the relationship between NSF teacher enhancement projects and standards-based reform.… Read more