It must be chopsticks: The Less Reported Findings of 2015 TIMSS and Explaining the East Asian Outstanding Performance
TIMSS (Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study) beat PISA by two weeks. It just released its 2015 results. Within hours of the release, Google News has already collected over 10,000 news stories reacting to the results from around the world, some sad, some happy, some envious, and some confused. The biggest news is, however, nothing new: Children in East Asian countries best at maths. They were the best 20 years ago when TIMSS was first introduced in 1995. They were the best in all subsequent cycles.
Singapore, Hong Kong SAR, Korea, Chinese Taipei, and Japan are the top performers. In 4th grade, the lowest East Asian country is 23 points above the next best country, Northern Ireland for 4th grade, the same gap as was in 2011, and in 8th grade, a whopping 48 points lead ahead of the next best country, Russia, a 17 point increase from 31 in 2011. (See below).
Much of the coverage is about how well the East Asian students performed and conversation will be about what lessons we can draw from the East Asian education systems. Frankly I am not sure what, if anything, can be learned these studies but below are a few observations I have after a quick read of the 2015 math report. These findings are less likely to be covered by the media and talked much by pundits.
- East Asian parents are not “very satisfied” with their schools. In 4th grade, only 7% of students’ parents in Japan reported that they were “very satisfied,” the lowest of all participating countries, 17% for Korea, 47% for Chinese Taipei, 55% for Hong Kong, and 58% for Singapore, all below the international average of 59%. The US, Australia, and England did not have enough participation to be reported.
- East Asian schools do not necessarily put a “very high emphasis” on academic success. According to the principals reports, in 4th grade, only 3% of Japanese students’ principals put a “very high emphasis” on academic success, 7% for Hong Kong, 11% for Singapore, 12% for Chinese Taipei, and 26% for Korea, compared with 19% for Canada, 18% for New Zealand, 14% for the US and England, and 12 for Australia. In 8th grade, English schools top the world in emphasis on academic success with 26% of students’ principals reported so, while Jan had only 2%, Hong Kong 6%, Chinese Taipei 7%, Singapore 10%, and Korea 17%. The U.S. has 8% and Australia 14%, on par with Canada’s 13%. Teacher reports show a similar pattern.
- East Asian teachers are not “very satisfied” with their jobs. In 4th grade, Japan is at the bottom with only 23% of its students’ teachers reporting “very satisfied,” Hong Kong is third from the bottom, with 33%. Singapore has 37%, while Chinese Taipei has 46%. Korea is the exception with 55%. Countries reporting the most “very satisfied” teachers are Iran, Qatar, Oman, and United Arab Emirates. In 8th grade, the situation seems to worsen: Japan, England, Singapore, and Hong Kong are bottom Education in the Age of Globalization » Blog Archive » It must be chopsticks: The Less Reported Findings of 2015 TIMSS and Explaining the East Asian Outstanding Performance: