1136.0 - A Directory of Education and Training Statistics, 2009  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 24/03/2009   
   Page tools: Print Print Page



Australian Council for Educational Research
Telephone 1800 818 095


The Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) is the world's longest running school mathematics and science study, and is designed to help countries improve student learning. It collects student educational achievement data at Year 4 and Year 8 to provide information about trends in performance over time. The TIMSS assessments are constructed using 'content' domains and three cognitive domains. In both mathematics and science there are three content domains at Year 4, and four at Year 8. In addition there are three cognitive domains in each curriculum area: knowing, applying and reasoning, which describe the behaviours expected of students in relation to the content.

Approximately 60 countries participate in TIMSS, which is a project of the International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement (IEA). The Australian Council for Educational Research (ACER) is responsible for undertaking the data collection in Australian schools. TIMSS is conducted on a four year cycle: the most recent cycle was 2006-07; and the next collection in 2010-11. Some 10,000 students from all states and territories were invited to participate in the 2006-07 Australian TIMSS collection.


School students in Year 4 and Year 8. TIMSS uses a two-stage stratified cluster sample design, with sampling probability proportional to size. Schools are randomly selected to represent state, geographic location and school sector. One entire class of students is then randomly selected from all the classes at the school.

Reference Period

For Australia, October and November 2006. Enumeration in southern hemisphere countries occurs about six months earlier than in the northern hemisphere, because of the differing start dates for school years.

Frequency of Collection

Four yearly

Method of Collection

The mathematics and science tests are developed in a collaborative process. Because a number of the test questions are open ended, it is ensured that markers are adequately trained. This is achieved through a series of internationally and nationally held training sessions.

Besides the student questionnaires, the study also involves separate questionnaires for schools and teachers. The questionnaires go through extensive critical review, pilot and field trials. These questionnaires are viewed as important in order to draw conclusions from student achievement data that would be of use to education policy makers. Extensive information, including sample questionnaires, is available through the links on the ACER website.


Release Schedule

The first release is usually two years after the collection.


Australian TIMSS publications are available from the TIMSS page on the ACER website, www.acer.edu.au, which also provides links to the IEA TIMSS site for international publications.


Information is available for Australia and for each state and territory. It is also possible to compare Australia's results with the international survey results.

Data Service

Datasets can be downloaded from the 'TIMSS & PIRLS International Study Centre' website, isc.bc.edu (Boston College, USA). An online data access and analysis system is available at the 'AIR Lighthouse', lighthouse.air.org/timss, which is a service developed by the American Institutes for Research (AIR).


Student achievement in Mathematics and Science

Student Background


Books in the home
Home possessions
Parental Education
Educational expectations
Attitudes to mathematics and science
Self-perceived ability
Class activities
School climate
Safety in School
Outside school activities
Country of birth

Teacher Survey


Preparation to teach TIMSS topics
Teacher interactions
Professional development
School safety, facility and climate
Class size
Time spent teaching
Use of text books
Learning activities
Limits on teaching
Topics taught
Calculator/computer use

Principal Survey


School demographics
Instructional time
Principal’s time allocation
Parental involvement
School Climate
Ability grouping
Professional Development
Teacher evaluation
Teacher recruitment
Student behaviour
Resource inadequacies
Technology, support and equipment

Curriculum Survey
Grade-to-grade structure

Curriculum introduction and revision
Goals, methods and materials
Calculator/computer policy
Emphasis on instructional approaches
Teaching of TIMSS topics
Differentiation of the curriculum
Instructional time and homework
Remedial instruction
Teaching requirements
Teacher certification
Pre-service preparation
Assistance to implement the curriculum
Communication of curriculum changes
Parental involvement
Curriculum evaluation
Public examinations

Historical Data

In Australia, TIMSS was first conducted in late 1994 for primary and secondary students, and 1995 for final year students. The study was repeated for students in secondary schools in 1998 and for students in both primary and secondary schools in 2002. Australia also participated in the TIMSS 1999 Video Study. Year 8 mathematics and science classes were taped in 1999, so that teaching practices could be described and investigated.