1136.0 - Directory of Education and Training Statistics, 2004  
ARCHIVED ISSUE Released at 11:30 AM (CANBERRA TIME) 17/12/2004   
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Contents >> Non-ABS Collections >> Schools >> Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study

Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study


TIMSS National Research Coordinator
Sue Thomson (Fullarton)
Policy Research
Australian Council for Education Research (ACER)
Private Bag 55, Camberwell, VIC 3124
Telephone (03) 9277 5555
Facsimile (03) 9277 5500
Website http://www.acer.edu.au


TIMSS (Third International Mathematics and Science Study, now known as Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study) is sponsored by the International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement (IEA), and is the largest, most comprehensive and ambitious comparative study of mathematics and science ever undertaken. Australia participates in the studies through the Australian Council for Educational Research (ACER).


Around 400,000 students in 50 countries took part in the study in 2002/2003, including approximately 12,000 students from Australia. In Australia, Year 4 and Year 8 students from all states and territories participated. Year 9 students from selected states were also tested to maintain the trends from 1994 and 1998.



Fullarton, S., Lokan, J., Lamb, S. & Ainley, J. 2003, Lessons from the Third International Mathematics and Science Study, TIMSS Australia Monograph No. 4, Melbourne: Australian Council for Educational Research, (available http://www.acer.edu.au).

Hollingsworth, H., Lokan, J., McCrae, B. (2003), Teaching Mathematics in Australia, TIMSS Australia Monograph No.5, Melbourne: Australian Council for Educational Research, (available http://www.acer.edu.au).

Zammit, S., Routitsky, A. & Greenwood, L. (2002) Mathematics and Science Achievement of Junior Secondary School Students in Australia. Melbourne: Australian Council for Educational Research.

Data Service

The international TIMSS data base, including the Australian data for all three TIMSS populations, can be downloaded from the Boston College TIMSS web site - http://timss.bc.edu/. International reports can also be accessed from this web site.

Release Schedule

The first release is usually 2 years after the collection.


Student achievement in Maths and Science as measured by tests.

Student Background

Age and gender
Country of birth
Outside school activities
Parental expectations
Self perceived ability
Attitudes to school
Class activities

Teacher Survey

Age and gender
Level taught
Outside school hours work
Requirements for students to do well
Familiarity with curriculum
Use of text books
Instructional methods
Limits on teaching
Topics taught
Lesson preparation
Perceived social value

Principal Survey

School levels served
Usage of time
School decision-making
Influence on curriculum
Resource inadequacies
Student attendance
School environment and safety
Time spent by teachers in classrooms
Admission policies


Information is available for Australia and for each State and Territory, except for Year 12 results as the sample is too small. It is also possible to compare Australia's results with the international survey results.


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

The study also involves separate questionnaires for schools, teachers and students. The questionnaires go through extensive critical review, pilot and field trials. These questionnaires are viewed as important in order to draw conclusions from achievement data that would be of use to education policy makers.


Reference Period

For Australia, October and November 2002.

Frequency of Collection

Planned to be collected at lower secondary level every four years.

Historical Data

TIMSS was 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 so that teaching practices could be described and investigated.

TIMSS is preceded by two earlier mathematics studies (1964 and 1978) and two science (1971 and 1983) studies. These were carried out separately from one another and were much smaller than TIMSS in terms of the number of countries and students involved. These were all sponsored by the IEA.



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