TIMSS (Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study) 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.
TIMSS assesses the mathematics and science achievement of pupils in the Fourth and/or Eighth grades (equivalent to Fourth Class and Second Year in Ireland). First conducted in 1995, TIMSS takes place every four years. Ireland has participated on four occasions – in 2011 (at primary level only), and in 1995, 2015, and 2019 (at both primary and post-primary levels).
TIMSS 2019 was the first cycle of the study to offer the assessment on a digital platform. Half of countries that participated in TIMSS 2019 opted to deliver the assessment digitally while the other half, including Ireland, administered the paper-based version of the assessment. The 2023 cycle of TIMSS will mark the transition to computer-based assessment of mathematics and science.
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 initial national report for TIMSS 2019 can be downloaded here.
This video describes the value of TIMSS and what we can expect from the TIMSS results.
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. Five 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
- The home learning environment in Ireland: Insights from TIMSS 2015
- Students’ perspectives on learning mathematics and science: Results from TIMSS 2015 in Ireland.
The International Study Center publishes international reports on the main results for TIMSS.