Assessment

International Comparison

By Sean Cavanagh — August 08, 2006 1 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

High-stakes tests and graduation exams. The SAT. The ACT. NAEP, also known as “the nation’s report card.”

For one state, those tests just aren’t enough.

Next year, Minnesota will assess its students on a grander scale—through the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study, or TIMSS. The heavily scrutinized exam offers nation-by-nation comparisons of students’ ability in those subjects.

Created in 1995, the TIMSS exams have tested students every four years from about 50 countries in 4th and 8th grades and once at the high school level. While the vast majority of participants are nations, many U.S. states and individual school districts have taken part over the years, typically with the goal of seeing how well their students perform when thrown into the pool of international talent. That pool includes such consistent high performers as Japan, Singapore, and South Korea.

In 1999, for instance, 13 states and 14 school districts participated.

But Minnesota, which last took part in 1995, is the only U.S. state to sign up for 2007 so far, though others may do so soon, said Ina V.S. Mullis, the co-director of the TIMSS and PIRLS Study Center, at Boston College. (PIRLS is the Progress in International Reading Literacy Study, another nation-by-nation exam.) Other non-nations will take the test, such as several Canadian provinces and the Basque region of Spain.

One hurdle to state participation is the cost: It takes about $600,000 to cover various expenses for administering and managing the test, Ms. Mullis said.

Minnesota’s corporate community was a strong backer of TIMSS participation, raising about $150,000 to go with $500,000 in state funding. Charlie Weaver, the executive director of the Minnesota Business Partnership, said business leaders see TIMSS as a way to gauge whether recent state academic changes have worked—and to galvanize the public to demand more of its schools.

“Minnesota parents are pretty sanguine,” said Mr. Weaver, whose Minneapolis organization represents companies with 1,000 or more employees. “The perception is, ‘You know, our neighborhood schools are great.’… Hopefully, [taking the TIMSS] will provide a wake-up call.”

A version of this article appeared in the August 09, 2006 edition of Education Week

Events

School & District Management K-12 Essentials Forum Get a Strong Start to the New School Year
Get insights and actions from Education Week journalists and expert guests on how to start the new school year on strong footing.
Reading & Literacy Webinar A Roadmap to Multisensory Early Literacy Instruction: Accelerate Growth for All Students 
How can you develop key literacy skills with a diverse range of learners? Explore best practices and tips to meet the needs of all students. 
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
College & Workforce Readiness Webinar
Supporting 21st Century Skills with a Whole-Child Focus
What skills do students need to succeed in the 21st century? Explore the latest strategies to best prepare students for college, career, and life.
Content provided by Panorama Education

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

Assessment Letter to the Editor We Need NAEP
The president and CEO of Knowledge Alliance responds to a recent opinion essay's criticism of the National Assessment of Educational Progress.
1 min read
Illustration of an open laptop receiving an email.
iStock/Getty
Assessment Letter to the Editor 2022 Assessment ‘Most Important’ Ever
The executive director of the National Assessment Governing Board responds to criticism of NAEP in this letter to the editor.
1 min read
Illustration of an open laptop receiving an email.
iStock/Getty
Assessment Opinion Ignore NAEP. Better Yet, Abolish It
We’ve got to stop testing schools to death, writes Al Kingsley. National (and international) tests won't “fix” education.
Al Kingsley
5 min read
conceptual illustration of a ruler measuring a figure
Vanessa Solis/Education Week and iStock/Getty images
Assessment Opinion The Future, Present, and Past of 'the Nation's Report Card'
What lies ahead for the nation's only true barometer of the state of K-12 education?
7 min read
Image shows a multi-tailed arrow hitting the bullseye of a target.
DigitalVision Vectors/Getty