1301.0 - Year Book Australia, 2009–10  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 04/06/2010   
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Contents >> Education and training >> Trends in international mathematics and science study (TIMSS) (Article)


A population with a high level of maths and science literacy helps to maximise scientific and technological innovation, enhance our standard of living, and allows us to be internationally competitive. Educational systems play an important role in developing students' knowledge and skills in maths and science. These areas have recently been identified as being key learning areas for national, state and territory curriculum programs.

In 2007, the maths and science achievement of Australian students was found to be above or at the international average.

Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) compared achievement levels in 49 countries at Year 8 level and 36 countries at Year 4 level. Australia was at, or statistically above, the TIMSS scale average of 500 in each case. Countries above Australia generally included Asian countries (such as Singapore, Hong Kong, China and Japan), the United States and England.

International benchmarks, based on four performance levels, also showed Australia to be above or at the international median. Again Asian countries, the United States and England ranked higher than Australia.

As reported in the TIMSS publication, there was a statistically significant increase in Australia's Year 4 mathematics TIMSS score in 2007 over 2003. The Year 8 science score showed a statistically significant decrease in the same period; some other countries showed a similar decline. There was no significant change in Australia's Year 8 Mathematics or Year 4 Science score between 2003 and 2007 (table 12.36).

For both the maths and science indicators, the average scores for Year 4 students in New South Wales, Victoria and the Australian Capital Territory were above those for other states and territories.

12.36 Australia's achievement in maths and science, Average scores(a)

Australia (2003)
Australia (2007)
TIMSS Average

Maths, Year 4
Maths, Year 8
Science, Year 4
Science, Year 8

(a) Results for Year 4 and Year 8 are not directly comparable to each other, nor are the results for maths and science.
Source: The Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study, 2007.

There was no little or no significant difference in performance of Year 8 students between the states and territories; however the Australian Capital Territory and New South Wales had a higher proportion of students reaching the high benchmark level or above compared to other states and territories.

For further information see:

TIMSS Australia Highlights - http://www.acer.edu.au/documents/TIMSS_2007-AustraliaHighlights.pdf

TIMSS Australia Full Report - http://www.acer.edu.au/documents/TIMSS_2007-AustraliaFullReport.pdf

TIMSS Highlights 2007 - http://nces.ed.gov/pubs2009/2009001.pdf

ABS Australian Social Trends, June 2009 (4102.0)

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