# Comparing U.S. K-12 Students' Math and Science Performance Internationally: What are the facts, what do they mean for educational reform, and how do I talk effectively about the issues?

In the popular press and in public debate, one often hears that U.S. students are performing poorly in math and science in comparison to other countries. What is the basis for these claims? What are students' actual scores and rankings? How should we interpret and use these scores? A better understanding of the evidence is important for making effective policy decisions that affect computer science and other STEM fields. |

## What is the basis for the international comparisons? The source for these comparisons is the Trends in International Math and Science Study (TIMSS), an international test administered every four years to 4th and 8th graders. |
## What are U.S. students' scores and rankings?The frequently heard claim that U.S. students are doing poorly is misleading. In 2007, U.S. 4th grade students scored fifth in science and ninth in math; 8th grade students scored tenth in science and sixth in math (full results available at http://nces.ed.gov/timss/results07.asp). While there is always room for improvement, U.S. students currently score in the top 12-25% of countries in most grade levels and subjects. In the test's history, U.S. scores have been stable or improving rather than declining. |

## What factors are important for interpreting and using TIMSS results? It is always important to be careful when making claims based on one test. In this case, several important limitations need to be considered before drawing conclusions or making policy recommendations based on TIMSS result. |

## What factors are important for interpreting and using TIMSS results? |
## How can I talk about TIMSS scores andeducational reform more effectively? Provide accurate information and reframe the conversation |

Author |
Catherine Ashcraft |