International

Global Study Identifies Promising Practices in Top-Scoring Nations

By Catherine Gewertz — October 08, 2013 2 min read

A new study uses the results of international tests to provide a profile of the practices that schools, parents, and teachers in the highest-scoring countries have in common.

The TIMSS & PIRLS International Study Center at Boston College released the study last week, which is focused on global data in mathematics, reading, and science. It analyzes the results of the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study, or TIMSS, which assesses math and science achievement, and the Progress in International Reading Literacy Study, or PIRLS. The assessments are typically administered in different years, but in 2011, both TIMSS and PIRLS were given. That made it possible for researchers to examine what they called a “culture of educational excellence” in all three subjects at the 4th grade level.

The study drew on data from 34 participating countries, but focused on about half of those, where 90 percent of the 4th graders reached a “basic” level of proficiency in all three subjects. The researchers zeroed in on five education systems that educate 35 percent of their 4th graders to a high level of achievement in all three subjects: Singapore, Chinese Taipei, Finland, Hong Kong, and Russia.

Good Reading Skills

Ina V.S. Mullis and Michael O. Martin, the executive directors of the TIMSS & PIRLS International Study Center, said in a statement that while each country had its own unique strengths and approaches to education, “the analyses presented in this report suggest that, across countries, there are a number of school and home factors that can positively affect student achievement in reading, mathematics, and science at the 4th grade.”

One key finding concerned the pivotal role of good reading skills. Not only do strong skills drive high achievement in literacy, but they facilitate high achievement in math and science, too, where students often must read complex material to solve problems.

Lots of Books

The study identified a set of school conditions that correlate with higher student achievement in reading, math, and science. They include stipulations that:

• All parties—principals, teachers, parents, and students—are “equally invested” in working together to achieve success;

• Teachers understand curricular goals;

• Teachers are successful at implementing curriculum;

• Teachers expect student achievement;

• Parents support student achievement;

• Students want to do well in school; and

• The school provides a safe and orderly environment by maintaining discipline and reducing the frequency of bullying.

When it comes to teacher practices, some of the common themes that were associated with high achievement that surfaced were that educators make sure students know what they’re expected to do, they make sure students like what they’re reading, and they try to be easily understood. In addition, they present content in interesting ways and give students interesting things to do and read.

Among the parent practices the researchers found to correlate with higher student achievement were creating a home environment that is supportive of educational attainment—with a lot of books available—as well as engaging with children in reading books, telling stories, singing songs, playing with alphabet toys, reading signs and labels aloud, and playing word games.

Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Student Well-Being Webinar
A Safe Return to Schools is Possible with Testing
We are edging closer to a nationwide return to in-person learning in the fall. However, vaccinations alone will not get us through this. Young children not being able to vaccinate, the spread of new and
Content provided by BD
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Teaching Webinar
Meeting the Moment: Accelerating Equitable Recovery and Transformative Change
Educators are deciding how best to re-establish routines such as everyday attendance, rebuild the relationships for resilient school communities, and center teaching and learning to consciously prioritize protecting the health and overall well-being of students
Content provided by Campaign for Grade-Level Reading
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Reading & Literacy Webinar
Addressing Learning Loss: What Schools Need to Accelerate Reading Instruction in K-3
When K-3 students return to classrooms this fall, there will be huge gaps in foundational reading skills. Does your school or district need a plan to address learning loss and accelerate student growth? In this
Content provided by PDX Reading

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

International Opinion Why Other Countries Keep Outperforming Us in Education (and How to Catch Up)
Money from the American Rescue Plan could be our last chance to build the school system we need, writes Marc Tucker.
Marc Tucker
5 min read
A student climbs stacks of books to reach the top
Tatyana Pivovarova/iStock/Getty Images Plus
International Global Test Finds Digital Divide Reflected in Math, Science Scores
New data from the 2019 Trends in International Math and Science Study show teachers and students lack digital access and support.
3 min read
Image of data.
iStock/Getty
International Pre-COVID Learning Inequities Were Already Large Around the World
A new international benchmarking highlights gaps in training for digital learning and other supports that could deepen the challenge for low-income schools during the pandemic.
4 min read
International Part of Global Trend, 1 in 3 U.S. High Schoolers Felt Disconnected From School Before Pandemic
UNESCO's annual report on global education progress finds countries need to make more effort to include marginalized students, particularly in the United States.
4 min read