How do advanced math and physics students in the U.S. compare to 12th graders in other countries? In the past, TIMSS (Trends in International Math and Science Study) have shown our best students lag behind the best in Asia and Europe. But we won’t know about current students. The U.S. Education Department has decided not to fund participation in TIMSS Advanced 2008.
Is it fear of poor results? Newsweek notes:
In the last survey, taken in 1995, students from only two countries â€” Cyprus and South Africa â€” scored lower than U.S. school kids.
Mark S. Schneider, commissioner for the National Center for Education Statistics, says TIMSS Advanced isn’t worth the money because not enough countries are participating in the advanced test: Only Armenia, Iran, Italy, Lebanon, the Netherlands, Norway, Russia, Slovenia and Sweden have signed up so far.
The U.S. will continue to participate in the fourth- and eighth-grade TIMSS exams, which have pushed the U.S. to raise expectations and reform our “mile-wide inch-deep” curricula. Why is Singapore Math hot? Because Singapore aces the TIMSS math tests.
It seems to crazy to defund TIMSS Advanced — participation should cost less than $10 million — while spending billions to boost global competitiveness in math, science and technology. Today, President Bush signed the $33.6 billion on America COMPETES (Creating Opportunities to Meaningfully Promote Excellence in Technology, Education and Science) Act.
Newsweek suggests the Gates Foundation or other private donors might step in to keep the U.S. in TIMSS Advanced. That would encourage other countries to participate too.
Go to Mindless Math Mutterings for the EdWeek article, which otherwise requires registration.
The Proof Is Out There suggests making national leaders answer math questions, such as what is 37 times 23?
Response from George W Bush (US): You know, Iâ€™m gettingâ€™ kinda tired of being asked this question all the time. People keep askinâ€™ me, whatâ€™s 37 times 23? When will you finally give an answer? And all I can say is, I refuse to set terms and conditions on what 37 times 23 is, or to give a deadline for that solution. I mean, if I give whatâ€™s meant to be some kinda definitive answer, thatâ€™s just gonna embolden the enemy. But weâ€™re workinâ€™ on this. You gotta trust me on this one.