TIMSS (Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study) assesses the maths and science achievement of pupils in Fourth and Eighth grades (equivalent to Fourth Class and Second Year in Ireland). First conducted in 1995, TIMSS takes place every four years. Ireland has taken part in 1995, 2011 (at Fourth grade only), and 2015. The next implementation of TIMSS takes place in Spring 2019 with results due for publication in December 2020.
TIMSS is a project of the International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement (IEA), and is managed at an international level by the International Study Center in Boston College. Within each participating country, a National Research Centre manages the study. In Ireland, this role is filled by the Educational Research Centre. The Centre is supported in this work by a National Advisory Committee, chaired by the Department of Education and Skills, and with representatives from the main education stakeholders.
A major purpose of TIMSS is to provide background information that can be used to improve teaching and learning. The study collects detailed information about curriculum and curriculum implementation, instructional practices, and school resources. The assessment is based on comprehensive assessment frameworks developed collaboratively with the participating countries. These frameworks specify the knowledge, skills, and understandings to be assessed.
The IEA is also responsible for PIRLS (Progress in International Reading Literacy Study). In 2011, the cycles for PIRLS and TIMSS coincided for the first time, giving countries the opportunity to take part in one or both assessments. Of the 49 countries took part in PIRLS in 2011, 34 – including Ireland – also took part in TIMSS.
TIMSS 2015: The initial national report on TIMSS 2015 was published by the ERC in late 2016. In addition, three contextual reports, drawing on more detailed analysis of factors associated with achievement and the broader educational context in Ireland have been published as part of the ERC Research Series:
- Shaping Schools: What TIMSS tells us about educations systems
- Inside the primary classroom: What happens in Fourth Class?
- Inside the post-primary classroom: Mathematics and science teaching in Second Year
Two further reports on TIMSS 2015 are planned: these examine students’ home background, and their attitudes and behaviours.
The International Study Center publishes international reports on the main results for TIMSS.