The Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) is an international assessment of the mathematics and science knowledge of 4th and 8th grader (loosely, ages 9/10 and 13/14, respectively) students around the world. TIMSS was developed by the International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement (IEA) to allow participating nations to compare students' educational achievement across borders. The IEA also conducts the Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS). TIMSS was first administered in 1995, and every 4 years thereafter. 59 nations and 425,000 students participated in TIMSS 2007. TIMSS 2011 Mathematics Report, 2008, International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement, TIMSS 2011 testing has been done and the results will be published 2012. Another similar study is the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA).
TIMSS consists of an assessment of mathematics and science, as well as student, teacher, and school questionnaires. The current assessment includes those topics in mathematics and science that students are likely to have been exposed to up to and including grade 4 and grade 8.
Two different scoring systems have been used. In one the final score is adjusted so that the average is always 500 and standard deviation is always 100 for each test. This is recalculated for each test year so that these values stay the same. In another system the 1995 average and standard deviation are kept for subsequent years which may cause the subsequent years to have different averages and standard deviations from 500 and 100. This in part due to participating nations changing. This system allows easier comparisons between testing years.
The 1995 assessment included grades 4, 8, and the final year of high school. To be able to assess the knowledge of students, assessment items exhibit a range of difficulty and complexity. The student questionnaires are designed to collect information on students' backgrounds, attitudes and beliefs related to schooling and learning, information about their classroom experiences, among many other topics. The teacher and school questionnaires asks about class scheduling, mathematics and science content coverage, school policies, teachers' educational backgrounds and preparation, among many other topics.
TIMSS was created through an extensive collaboration among participating countries. Curriculum, measurement, and education experts from around the world worked together to create the assessment frameworks, item pools, and questionnaires. TIMSS is based on the curricula of schools around the world, and is organized to investigate how students are provided educational opportunities, and the factors that influence how students make use of these opportunities. Having its basis in the curricula of schools around the world, TIMSS intends to investigate three levels: the intended curriculum; the implemented curriculum; and the achieved curriculum. The intended curriculum is defined as the mathematics and science that societies intend for students to learn and how education systems are organized to meet this demand; the implemented curriculum is what is actually taught in classrooms, who teaches it, and how it is taught; the achieved curriculum is what students have learned. The various questionnaires seek information on the intended and implemented curriculum; the assessment seeks to ascertain what students know.
In TIMSS 1995 study, there were 25 participating counties for the fourth grade and 41 counties for the eighth grade. In 1999, TIMSS-R only focused on the eighth grade in 38 countries. There was no study done for the fourth grade in that year. In TIMSS 2003, there were 25 participating countries in the study for the fourth grade and 46 countries for the eighth grade. TIMSS 2007 had 36 participating counties for the fourth grade and 49 counties for the eighth grade. TIMSS 2011 had 52 participating countries for the fourth grade and 45 countries for the eighth grade.
Due to the fact that TIMSS studies are done in 4-year cycle, it opens the opportunity for participating counties to use the results between the fourth and the eight grades to track the changes in achievement and certain background factors from an earlier study. For example, results of the fourth grade in TIMSS 1995 are used to compare with the results of the eighth grade in TIMSS-R 1999 as fourth graders had become eighth graders in the next cycle of study.
In the United States, TIMSS is conducted by the National Center for Education Statistics of the U.S. Department of Education. Data for US students is further tracked for ethnic and racial groups, which can be tracked as the nation. As a whole, grade four students in the United States lagged the best Asian and European nations in the 2007 TIMSS international math and science test. Grade eight students in the United States also lagged the best Asian and European nations in the 2007 TIMSS international math and science test.