About TIMSS Advanced 2015

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In 2015, IEA and its TIMSS & PIRLS International Study Center at Boston College conducted TIMSS 2015 at fourth and eighth grades and TIMSS Advanced 2015 for students in the final year of secondary school enrolled in advanced mathematics and physics programs or tracks. Both TIMSS 2015 and TIMSS Advanced 2015 provide 20-year trend measures for countries that participated in the first TIMSS assessments in 1995.

TIMSS 2015 and TIMSS Advanced 2015 continue the long history of international assessments in mathematics and science conducted by IEA – the International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement. IEA is an independent international cooperative of national research institutions and government agencies that has been conducting studies of cross-national achievement since 1959. IEA pioneered international comparative assessments of educational achievement in the 1960s to gain a deeper understanding of the effects of policies across countries’ different systems of education.

IEA’s TIMSS & PIRLS International Study Center is located in the Lynch School of Education at Boston College and has been responsible for directing TIMSS and TIMSS Advanced since 1995.

TIMSS Advanced 2015

TIMSS ADVANCED 2015With the current emphasis on college and career readiness and increasing global competitiveness in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) fields, in 2015 TIMSS Advanced once again was joined with TIMSS. First conducted in 1995 as part of TIMSS and then separately again in 2008, TIMSS Advanced is the only international assessment that provides essential information about students’ achievement in advanced mathematics and physics. It assesses students in their final year of secondary school (often 12th grade) who are engaged in advanced mathematics and physics studies that prepare them to enter STEM programs in higher education.

TIMSS Advanced 2015 was offered together with TIMSS 2015 to provide 20 years of achievement trends at three important points in students’ schooling (4th grade, 8th grade, and final grade), and to examine how the foundations established in primary school can influence students’ educational career through lower secondary and impact achievement in students’ final year of secondary school. To develop the TIMSS Advanced 2015 Assessment Frameworks, the participating countries worked collaboratively to build upon the work of TIMSS Advanced 2008. In 2015, the advanced mathematics assessment covered algebra, calculus, and geometry (including trigonometry); the physics assessment covered mechanics and thermodynamics, electricity and magnetism, and wave phenomena and atomic/nuclear physics. The assessments consisted of approximately 100 items each for advanced mathematics and for physics. Questionnaires were completed by the students, their teachers, and school principals.

Exhibit 1 lists the nine countries that participated in TIMSS Advanced 2015, including France, Italy, Lebanon, Norway, Portugal, the Russian Federation, Slovenia, Sweden, and the United States. In Advanced Mathematics, the Russian Federation participated with two populations of students—Profile students and a subset of those students who were in an even more intensive program. The students in the intensive program took 6 hours or more of mathematics lessons per week.

Exhibit 1: Countries Participating in TIMSS Advanced 2015
Country Also Participated
France 1995
Italy 1995 2008
Lebanon 2008
Norway 1995 2008
Russian Federation* 1995 2008
Slovenia 1995 2008
Sweden 1995 2008
United States 1995
*For advanced mathematics, the Russian Federation participated in 2015 with an expanded population that included the more specialized students assessed in 1995 and 2008.

In total, TIMSS Advanced 2015 was administered to more than 56,000 students (32,000 in advanced mathematics and 24,000 in physics). Nearly 5,000 teachers and 3,000 schools completed questionnaires.

In shaping educational policy, countries need to consider the issue of at what level and how many specialists they should be preparing in mathematics, science, and engineering. Globally, students need to be educated to teach and pursue careers in a host of crucial medical, social, industrial, and agricultural fields. However, across countries, programs in advanced mathematics and physics vary widely in terms of the proportion of the age cohort of students enrolled in them and in the depth and sophistication of subject matter content included. By the end of the secondary level, a significant proportion of the age cohort may no longer be in school; and for students still in school, the percentages electing to specialize in advanced mathematics and physics vary greatly. Thus, it is important to realize that TIMSS Advanced 2015 provides information on the following:

  • The numbers of students and the proportion of the overall student population who are participating in advanced mathematics and physics study at the end of secondary school
  • The achievement of students in programs and tracks taking advanced mathematics and physics
  • A rich set of contextual data on curricula, instruction, teacher preparation, and students’ future plans that can be used to guide education reform and policy planning in STEM fields

TIMSS 2015

TIMSS is an ongoing international assessment of mathematics and science at the fourth and eighth grades that has been conducted every four years since 1995. TIMSS 2015 is the sixth in the TIMSS series, providing 20 years of trends in educational achievement in mathematics and science, together with comprehensive data on students’ contexts for learning in these curricular areas.

In 2015, 57 countries and 7 benchmarking entities (regional jurisdictions of countries such as states or provinces) participated in TIMSS. In total, more than 580,000 students around the world participated in TIMSS 2015.

Quality Assurance

TIMSS 2015 and TIMSS Advanced 2015 made every effort to attend to the quality and comparability of the data through careful planning and documentation, cooperation among participating countries, standardized procedures, and rigorous attention to quality control throughout. The assessments were given to carefully selected and well-documented probability samples of students. Staff from Statistics Canada and the IEA Data Processing and Research Center (DPC) worked with National Research Coordinators on all phases of sampling activities to ensure compliance with sampling and participation requirements, with the few exceptions from compliance annotated in the data exhibits. The IEA Secretariat worked with the TIMSS & PIRLS International Study Center to manage an extensive series of verification checks to ensure the comparability of translations of the assessment items and questionnaires, and to conduct an international quality assurance program of school visits to monitor and report on the administration of the assessment. IEA DPC staff worked closely with National Research Coordinators all through the project to organize data collection operations and to check all data for accuracy and consistency within and across countries.

TIMSS Advanced 2015 Results

The international results for TIMSS Advanced 2015 are reported on this website, and the TIMSS 2015 results for mathematics and science achievement at fourth and eighth grades also can be accessed.

The TIMSS Advanced 2015 results are presented separately for Advanced Mathematics and Physics, with 11 chapters for each subject that contain an overview and exhibits summarizing students’ achievement, on average and at the International Benchmarks, as well as exhibits describing the school and classroom contexts for students in special STEM programs or tracks in their final year of secondary school. The data exhibits can be downloaded and printed from the Download Center.

The website includes links to:

TIMSS Advanced 2015 Assessment Frameworks describes the advanced mathematics and physics frameworks, including the major content and cognitive domains to be assessed and the information to be collected in the student, teacher, and school questionnaires

Methods and Procedures in TIMSS Advanced 2015 documents the methods and procedures used to develop, implement, and analyze the results from the TIMSS Advanced 2015 assessments

Note: All TIMSS Advanced 2015 countries participated in TIMSS 2015 and are included in the TIMSS 2015 Encyclopedia. Also, considerable information about the TIMSS Advanced 2015 programs and tracks as well as the courses taken by the TIMSS Advanced students can be found in the TIMSS Advanced 2015 exhibits and the curriculum chapter.