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TIMSS 2019: Achievement in mathematics and science among elementary school students at consistent level

December 8th, 2020

Germany has been participating in TIMSS (Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study) since 2007. This study examines the mathematics and science performance of fourth-graders. Today, the results of the current round of the survey will be presented. Prof. Dr. Olaf Köller, Executive Scientific Director of the IPN, and Prof. Dr. Aiso Heinze, Director of the IPN Department of Mathematics Education, are members of the TIMSS consortium responsible for the study in Germany.

Overall, the current findings show high stability in math and science achievement over time.

Although the composition of students continues to change (more special needs children, more children with a migration background), the results of the previous survey rounds are maintained. Social and migration-related inequalities remain stable, but are neither particularly large nor particularly small by international standards. One positive finding is that differences between girls and boys are hardly found anymore.

"What remains troubling is the large group of low-performing children at proficiency levels 1 and 2. In math, this is 25%, and in science, over 27%. In absolute numbers, this means one can assume around 200,000 fourth graders nationwide not capable of learning at the same level after transferring to lower secondary school. In the meantime, for decades the system has failed to provide structures and programs to significantly reduce this proportion," said Köller, commenting on the results with regard to particularly underperforming students.

TIMSS is an international comparative school performance survey that aims to indicate and examine longer-term developments in education systems of participating countries. The surveys take place every four years to document longer-term developments in the participating education systems. The IEA (The International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement), is responsible for the TIMSS survey. It has been initiating and organizing international comparative school surveys, including TIMSS, for more than 50 years. In Germany, a consortium of scientists from the fields of mathematics education, science education in elementary schools, and international school performance assessments and comparisons is responsible for planning, conducting, and reporting. The consortium is led by Prof. Dr. Knut Schwippert from the University of Hamburg.

A summary of the TIMSS 2019 results can be found on the website of the Standing Conference of the Ministers of Education and Cultural Affairs of the Länder in the Federal Republic of Germany.

The full report in German is available for free download here.