TABLE OF CONTENTS

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY


PREFACE

 

bullet The Third International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) is the la rgest, most comprehensive, and most rigorous international comparison of educatio n ever undertaken.

bullet TIMSS' rich information allows us not only to compare achievement, but also t o understand how life in U.S. schools differs from that in other nations.

bullet This report on eighth-grade students is the first of a series of reports that will present findings on student achievement at the fourth grade, at the end of high school, as well as on various other topics.


CHAPTER 1: ACHIEVEMENT

 

bullet Eighth-grade students of different abilities are typically divided into different classrooms in the U.S., and different schools in Germany. In Japan, n o ability grouping is practiced.
bullet In the U.S. students in higher-level mathematics classes study different m aterial than students in lower-level classes. In Germany and Japan, all students study the same material, although in Germany, lower-level classes study it less deeply and rigorously.
bullet Japanese eighth-graders are preparing for a high-stakes examination to ent er high school at the end of ninth grade.
bullet U.S. teachers assign more homework and spend more class time discussing it than teachers in Germany and Japan. U.S. students report about the same amount of out-of-school math and science study as their Japanese and German counterparts .
bullet Heavy TV watching is as common among U.S. eighth graders as it is among th eir Japanese counterparts.



CHAPTER 2 : CURRICULUM


bullet The content taught in U.S. eighth-grade mathematics classrooms is at a seventh-grade level in comparison to other countries.
bullet Topic coverage in U.S. eighth-grade mathematics classes is not as focused as in Germany and Japan.
bullet In science, the degree of topic focus in the eighth-grade curriculum may b e similar to that of other countries.
bullet Our nation is atypical among TIMSS countries in its lack of a nationally-d efined curriculum.
bullet U.S. eighth graders spend more hours per year in math and science classes than German and Japanese students.



CHAPTER 3 : TEACHING


bullet The content of U.S. mathematics classes requires less high-level thought t han classes in Germany and Japan.
bullet U.S. mathematics teachers' typical goal is to teach students how to do someth ing, while Japanese teachers' goal is to help them understand mathematical concep ts.
bullet Japanese teachers widely practice what the U.S. mathematics reform recommends , while U.S. teachers do so less frequently.
bullet Although most U.S. math teachers report familiarity with reform recommendatio ns, only a few apply the key points in their classrooms.


CHAPTER 4 : TEACHERS' LIVES

 

bullet Unlike new U.S. teachers, new Japanese and German teachers receive long-te rm structured apprenticeships in their profession.
bullet Japanese teachers have more opportunities to discuss teaching-related issu es than do U.S. teachers.
bullet U.S. teachers have more college education than their colleagues in all but a few TIMSS countries.
bullet Student diversity and poor discipline are challenges not only for U.S. tea chers, but for their German colleagues as well.


CHAPTER 5 : STUDENTS' LIVES

 

bullet Eighth-grade students of different abilities are typically divided into different classrooms in the U.S., and different schools in Germany. In Japan, n o ability grouping is practiced.
bullet In the U.S. students in higher-level mathematics classes study different m aterial than students in lower-level classes. In Germany and Japan, all students study the same material, although in Germany, lower-level classes study it less deeply and rigorously.
bullet Japanese eighth-graders are preparing for a high-stakes examination to ent er high school at the end of ninth grade.
bullet U.S. teachers assign more homework and spend more class time discussing it than teachers in Germany and Japan. U.S. students report about the same amount of out-of-school math and science study as their Japanese and German counterparts .
bullet Heavy TV watching is as common among U.S. eighth graders as it is among th eir Japanese counterparts.


CONCLUSIONS

bullet No single factor can be considered to influence student performance in isolati on from other factors. There are no single answers to complex questions.
bullet The content of U.S. eighth-grade mathematics classes is not as challenging as tha t of other countries, and topic coverage is not as focused.
bullet Most U.S. mathematics teachers report familiarity with reform recommendations, al though only a few apply the key points in their classrooms.
bullet Evidence suggests that U.S. teachers do not receive as much practical training an d daily support as their German and Japanese colleagues.