The Guardian is reporting that English children recorded improved results in a set of prestigious international maths and science exams published today, although the maths scores of English primary and secondary pupils remain far behind those in Singapore and Hong Kong.
Primary school pupils in Northern Ireland again showed remarkable maths prowess, holding the 2011 ranking of sixth overall, and the nation’s exam results were the best in Europe among the 49 countries taking part.
The four-yearly Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (Timss) found that the performance of English pupils in the benchmark tests taken last year were remarkably similar to what it was in 2011.
England’s 13 and 14-year-olds produced their best effort in science, where England’s international rank rose from ninth to eighth out of the 39 countries taking part, keeping England ahead of the US, Canada and Australia. But England’s improved rank in science was mainly due to Finland not entering pupils in that age group, after having been the best-performing European country in 2011.
Although the latest Timss results didn’t show statistically significant improvements, they were enough for England to be ranked among the countries showing the best sustained improvements in science since the international measure was introduced in 1995.
Robert Coe, professor of education at the University of Durham, said: “These look like a respectable set of results for England. Although the media focus is often on the rankings, these are misleading, as each round of Timss (and each different age and subject) has a different set of countries included.
“A better indicator is to look at the actual score and compare it with previous performance. All four of the results for England are up on the previous round , though mostly by a marginal amount, either within the range of sampling variation or simply regaining the loss that was suffered between 2007 and 2011.”
What do you think about these results? Are they too small of a change to be of significance or does it show we are working in the right direction? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below or on Twitter. ~ Sophie
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