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Singapore Number One In Mathematics And Seventh In Science In The Third International Mathematics And Science Study (TIMSS) 1995

Singapore was ranked first in mathematics and science in an international study for 13-year-old students.

The same Singapore curriculum that made Singapore number one in math worldwide can help your child too! Get the Singapore Math books from SGBox!

Singapore shared the top spot with Korea in mathematics and was seventh in science in the same international study for 9-year-old students. [Singapore has since been ranked second in science in 1999.]

The same Singapore curriculum that made Singapore number two in science worldwide can help your child too! Get the Singapore Science books from SGBox!

In October 1994, 14,500 9-year-old students in primary 3 and 4, and 8,500 13-year-old students in secondary 1 and 2 in Singapore sat for tests in mathematics and science, along with half a million students from 44 other countries, in the largest international study of standards of performance in mathematics and science conducted to date.

This study, known as the Third International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS), is the largest international study of standards of performance in mathematics and science conducted to date.

The study was conducted by the International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement (IEA).

IEA is an international association for comparative study of educational achievement and is an international authority on the study of educational standards.

It has 53 institutional members from countries like Singapore, the United States, France, Germany and Japan. Its headquarters is at Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

How well Singapore students did in the mathematics and science tests is seen by their overall performance.

Performance Of The 13-Year-Old Students

At both secondary 1 and secondary 2, almost half of the students in Singapore were placed in the top 10% for mathematics, and more than a quarter for science.

In mathematics, the secondary 1 students in Singapore had 73% of the questions correct compared to the international average of 49%.

The secondary 2 students did equally well, with 79% compared to 55%.

In science, the secondary 1 students in Singapore had 61% of the questions correct compared to the international average of 50%.

The secondary 2 students did equally well, with 70% compared to 56%.

Asian students generally did very well in the mathematics section, with Korea, Japan and Hong Kong in the second, third and fourth places respectively. Japan and Korea also ranked near the top for science.

Performance Of The 9-Year-Old Students

At both primary 3 and primary 4, almost 40% of the students in Singapore were placed in the top 10% for mathematics.

For science, 11% of our students were placed in the top 10%.

In mathematics, the primary 3 students in Singapore obtained correct answers to 62% of the questions compared to the international average of 47%.

The primary 4 students did equally well, with 76% correct answers compared to 59% at the international level.

In science, the primary 3 students in Singapore obtained correct answers to 53% of the questions compared to the international average of 50%.

The primary 4 students obtained 64% correct answers compared to 59% at the international level.

Science is taught only from primary 3 in Singapore, compared with most of the other participating countries which begin teaching science from the first grade.

For the 9-year-olds, Asian students generally did very well in the mathematics section, with Singapore, Korea, Japan and Hong Kong occupying the top positions.

For science, the Asian countries continued to do well, with Korea and Japan at the top of the table while Singapore was seventh.

Increase in Performance

Based on the performance of students in both grades 4 and 8, the study estimated the increase in mathematics and science achievement between the two grades.

Singapore's estimated increase was among the largest for mathematics and science.

The performance increase of Singapore's students indicates that delaying the learning of science to primary 3, so as to give more time to the learning of the languages and mathematics in primary 1 and 2, did not disadvantage pupils subsequently as they advance through the school system in Singapore.

Ranking Of Countries By Mathematics Achievement (By Grade)*

Third Grade (Primary 3)

Fourth Grade (Primary 4)

Rank Country Rank Country
1 Korea 1 Singapore
2 Singapore 2 Korea
3 Japan 3 Japan
4 Hong Kong 4 Hong Kong
5 Czech Republic 5 Czech Republic
6 United States 6 United States
7 Ireland 7 Ireland
8 Canada 8 Canada
9 England 9 England
10 New Zealand 10 New Zealand
11 Cyprus 11 Cyprus
12 Greece 12 Greece
13 Portugal 13 Portugal
14 Norway 14 Norway
15 Iceland 15 Iceland
16 Iran, Islamic Rep. 16 Iran, Islamic Rep.

* This table does not include 8 countries at Third Grade and 9 countries at Fourth Grade as their samples did not satisfy the international guidelines.

Ranking Of Countries By Science Achievement (By Grade)**

Third Grade (Primary 3) Fourth Grade (Primary 4)
Rank Country Rank Country
1 Korea 1 Korea
2 Japan 2 Japan
3 United States 3 United States
4 England 4 England
5 Czech Republic 5 Czech Republic
6 Canada 6 Canada
7 Singapore 7 Singapore
8 Hong Kong 8 Hong Kong
9 Ireland 9 Ireland
10 New Zealand 10 New Zealand
11 Norway 11 Norway
12 Greece 12 Greece
13 Iceland 13 Iceland
14 Portugal 14 Portugal
15 Cyprus 15 Cyprus
16 Iran, Islamic Rep. 16 Iran, Islamic Rep.

** This table does not include 8 countries at Third Grade and 9 countries at Fourth Grade as their samples did not satisfy the international guidelines.


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