U.S. fourth and eighth graders above average in math and science on the latest international comparison known as TIMSS. Just last week, the PISA test of applied math skills ranked U.S. 15-year-olds below the international average. Education Week reports:
Fourth and 8th graders in the United States scored above international averages in both math and science on the third version of the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study, or TIMSS, which was released here Dec. 14.
The TIMSS assessment seeks to measure students’ mastery of specific content they have learned in science and mathematics classes. In doing so, the study contrasts with the goal of a separate international comparison released Dec. 6, the Program for International Student Assessment, or PISA, which gauges 15-year-olds’ abilities at applying math skills to real-world contexts.
Eighth graders made significant gains, while fourth grade scores leveled off but remained above the international average. In addition, minority students in the U.S. narrowed the achievement gap.
Asian countries, led by Singapore, earned the highest scores.
Does memorization or creative learning strategies lead to better performance in mathematics?
My guess was both. I thought students who claimed to use both approaches in mathematics would be most prepared. It turns out I was wrong. Maybe.
Two groups of U.S. students did well on PISA: Those who said they memorized math answers but didn’t try to create their own problem-solving methods and a much smaller group who said they “think of new ways” to solve math problems. The memorizers also did better than average on problem-solving. Those who said they used both strategies did not score very well.