ERIC Number: ED498980
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2007-Nov-14
Reference Count: 41
Chance Favors the Prepared Mind: Mathematics and Science Indicators for Comparing States and Nations
Phillips, Gary W.
American Institutes for Research
This report provides international benchmarks to help states see how students are doing in math and science within an international context. It shows how state-by-state results from the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) can be linked with nation-by-nation results from the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) to provide a comprehensive indicator system that would allow state-by-nation comparisons. Such a system of indicators is important to state and national policymakers because it goes beyond the traditional roles of NAEP and TIMSS. Historically, NAEP has allowed US policymakers to compare and track the progress of states within the United States, while TIMSS has provided similar data for nations. This report places NAEP and TIMSS on the same scale, allowing states to compare themselves with nations. By doing so, states can monitor progress toward improved science and mathematics achievement while seeing how they stack up within an international context. The paper first explores the broader context for the study by arguing that many intractable worldwide problems cannot be addressed in the United States until we reach a critical mass of science and mathematical literacy among the general population. The paper then discusses a brief history of attempts within the United States to establish state-by-state indicators of student performance. The paper argues that most attempts have been flawed. However, there is a way to use extant data from NAEP and TIMSS to provide a comprehensive indicator system with accurate and timely state-by-state data along with international benchmarks for states. Finally, the paper introduces the concept of statistically linking NAEP and TIMSS. This allows TIMSS to be reported based on the NAEP achievement levels. By expressing NAEP and TIMSS in the same metric, states can see not only see how they compare with other states, but also with other countries. The findings indicate that most states are performing as well or better than most foreign countries; however, the highest achieving states within the United States are still significantly below the highest achieving countries. The paper argues that the United States needs to substantially increase the scientific and mathematical competency of the general adult population so that the voting citizenry can better understand and reach a consensus on policies that address many of the world's most pressing problems. Additionally, the paper argues that more people are needed in the scientific disciplines to better compete in a global economic environment. To achieve these goals, national and state policymakers need indicators of scientific and mathematical progress early in the educational pipeline. It is argued that the strategy of linking NAEP to TIMSS helps to provide this system of indicators. The following are appended: (1) Technical Appendix A: Statistical Linking NAEP to TIMSS; and (2) Technical Appendix B: Significance Testing and Multiple Comparisons. (Contains 36 tables, 53 figures, and 13 footnotes.)
Descriptors: Mathematics Achievement, Academic Achievement, Numeracy, National Competency Tests, Foreign Countries, Science Achievement, Cross Cultural Studies, Comparative Analysis, Trend Analysis, Educational Indicators, Policy Formation, Public Policy, Measurement Techniques, Competence, Adults, Voting, Citizenship Responsibility, Global Approach, Error of Measurement
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Publication Type: Opinion Papers; Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: Grade 8
Authoring Institution: American Institutes for Research (CRESS), Kensington, MD.
Identifiers - Location: United States
Identifiers - Laws, Policies, & Programs: No Child Left Behind Act 2001