Fighting for Equity in Education

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Year 4 TIMSS & PIRLS results

Monday December 17, 2012

These are the summary results for Australia from the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) and the Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS) for Year 4. They are also compared with results from earlier years. Australia participated in PIRLS for the first time in 2011.

Reading
Australia is in the middle of the pack with 21 other countries significantly higher and 17 countries significantly below. Australia’s score is statistically similar to 6 other countries.

Australia had one of the largest proportions of students performing at the low international benchmark or below of any Western or East Asian country (24%). Only Spain, Norway and Belgium had significantly higher proportions at these levels. The proportion at the advanced level was similar to many higher performing countries (10%), but it was also lower than in many countries.

Australia had one of the biggest spread of scores between the top and bottom 5% of students amongst Western and East Asian countries. Australia’s score range was only significantly exceeded by Israel and New Zealand.

The mean score for Indigenous students was well below that of non-Indigenous students and remote area students were well below that of metropolitan students. Very low proportions of Indigenous and remote area students were at the most advanced reading level (3% and 1% respectively compared to 11% of non-Indigenous and metropolitan students) and about half of all Indigenous and remote area students were at low levels of achievement (48% and 52% respectively compared to 22% of non-Indigenous and metropolitan students).

The mean score for students with a language background other than English (LBOTE) was lower than that of students speaking English at home.

Mathematics
Australia’s average score of 516 score points was significantly lower than the average score for 17 other countries significantly higher than the score for 27 other countries. Australia’s score was statistically similar to that of 5 other countries.

There has been a significant increase in Australia’s score since 1995, but no change since 2007.

Australia had one of the largest proportions of students performing at the low international benchmark or below of any Western or East Asian country (30%). Only Croatia, Norway, Poland, Spain and New Zealand had significantly higher proportions at these levels. The proportion at the advanced level was similar to many higher performing countries (10%), but it was also lower than in many countries.

There has been no change in the Australian proportions since 2007, but there was a significant reduction in the proportion at or below the international benchmark since 1995.

Australia had the biggest spread of scores between the top and bottom 5% of students of all Western and East Asian countries, except for Hungary. The spread for Australia was similar to that of England, Northern Ireland and Serbia.

There has been a slight increase in the spread of scores for Australia since 2007.

The mean score for Indigenous students was well below that of non-Indigenous students, with a difference of 64 points. A very low proportion of Indigenous students were at the advanced maths level (2%) compared to non-Indigenous students (10%). Over half of all Indigenous students (55%) were at the low benchmark or below compared to 28% on non-Indigenous students.

Between 2007 and 2011, there was a significant improvement in mathematics achievement for Year 4 Indigenous students, with a 27 points increase which narrowed the achievement gap from 2007. However, the overall increase between 1995 and 2011 was similar because of an increase in the mean score in 2003 and a fall in 2007.

The mean score of remote area students were well below that of metropolitan students, with a difference of 65 points. Only 3% of remote area students were at the most advanced maths level compared to 10% of metropolitan students. Half of all remote area students were at low levels of achievement compared to 28% of metropolitan students.

There was a slight increase in the average score of remote area students since 2007 and a reduction in the proportion at or below the low international benchmark.

There was no statistically significant difference between the mean scores of LBOTE and English speaking students and little difference in the proportions at the advanced and low levels of achievement.

Science
Australia’s average score of 516 score points was significantly lower than for 18 other countries and significantly higher than that of 23 other countries. Several countries had a statistically similar score to Australia.

Australia’s average scale score in 2011 was significantly lower than in 2007 (527) and statistically similar to the average score in 1995.

Australia had one of the largest proportions of students performing at the low international benchmark or below of any Western or East Asian country (29%). Only New Zealand, Norway, Poland and Spain had significantly higher proportions at these levels. The proportion at the advanced level was similar to many higher performing countries (7%), but it was also lower than in many countries.

The proportion of students at the low benchmark or below increased from 24% to 29% between 2007 and 2011 and the proportion at the advanced level decreased from 10% to 7%.

Australia had the biggest spread of scores in science between the top and bottom 5% of students of all Western and East Asian countries, except for Singapore, Hungary and New Zealand. The spread for Australia was similar to that of England and the United States.

There was no change in the spread of scores for Australia since 2007.

The mean score for Indigenous students was well below that of non-Indigenous students, with a difference of 64 points. A very low proportion of Indigenous students were at the advanced maths level (2%) compared to non-Indigenous students (8%). Over half of all Indigenous students (53%) were at the low benchmark or below compared to 26% of non-Indigenous students.

There was little significant change in the average score for Indigenous students between 1995 and 2011. There was a significant reduction in the achievement gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous students since 2007, but this was due to a decline in the average score of non-Indigenous students.

The mean score of remote area students were well below that of metropolitan students, with a difference of 61 points. Only 3% of remote area students were at the most advanced science level compared to 8% of metropolitan students. Nearly half of all remote area students were at or below the low international benchmark compared to 27% of metropolitan students.

There was little change in the mean score of remote area students and the proportion at or below the low international benchmark since 2007.

The mean score for English speaking students was significantly higher than for LBOTE students in 2011. There was little difference in the proportions at the advanced level of science, but a much higher proportion of LBOTE students were at or below the low international benchmark.

The mean score for LBOTE students increased significantly since 2007 and there was a significant reduction in the proportion at or below the low benchmark.

Trevor Cobbold

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