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ERIC Number: ED419824
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 1998-Apr
Pages: 15
Abstractor: N/A
Reference Count: N/A
Cross-National Achievement Comparisons of Upper-Secondary Students: A Swiss Perspective.
Ramseier, Erich
This paper shows how the Third International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) can be carried out in a country with a very complicated upper-secondary educational system. The difficulties are not linked to the measurement of achievement, since the international project provides a common achievement scale. The challenge lies in the design of the sample, which has to reflect the structure of the educational system. Before the Swiss design is presented, a description of the Swiss educational system is given, followed by some national results and a short comparison with the United States. In Switzerland, a country with 3 principal languages, the 26 cantons make many of their own laws and enjoy a great deal of autonomy in local education. There is greater unity at the upper secondary level than at the lower levels, because the upper secondary level is governed by some federal regulations. It is divided into two major types of education, the Maturitatsschule (gymnasium), which is a university preparation school, and vocational training schools. There are two other minor types of upper-secondary education, teacher training and general education schools. Gymnasiums, entrance to which is governed by a rigorous selection process, offer five types of academic programs. The TIMSS sample design was not well-suited to Switzerland, where the population needed to be stratified according to programs of study, and where drawing random samples from schools was not suitable for practical limitations on testing time. The stratification process is described. Results from the TIMSS in Switzerland confirm how important it is to take account of different achievement levels among classes, since 66% of the variation in mathematics and science literacy achievement was inter-class variation, while only 34% was intra-class variation. The need to stratify vocational training was also confirmed. Although there are many problems in comparing achievement of Swiss and U.S. students, some comments can be made about the higher achievement of Swiss students. It appears that Swiss schools succeed in upholding implicit performance standards and communicating them directly to their students. Reasons for this assumption are discussed. The TIMSS shows that it is possible to design a sample that reflects the complicated structure of the Swiss educational system. In addition, TIMSS results support the high level of achievement of the Swiss vocational schools. (Contains 2 figures and 11 references.) (SLD)
Publication Type: Reports - Evaluative; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Switzerland
Identifiers - Assessments and Surveys: Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study