Asian Countries Top International Math and Science Assessment

January 27, 2017

Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article. 

1. dominate / ˈdɒm əˌneɪt / (v.) – to perform much better than one’s opponents in a competition
Example: My favorite team dominated the entire league.

2. large-scale / ˈlɑrdʒ skeɪl / (adj.) – involving a huge number of people, things, topics, etc.
Example: The government conducted a large-scale survey involving the entire country.

3. administer / ædˈmɪn ə stər / (v.) – to give
Example: The substitute teacher administered the test.

4. syllabus / ˈsɪl ə bəs / (n.) – an outline or a list of topics to be studied in a subject
Example: The syllabus did not include some important topics of the subject.

5. pronounced / prəˈnaʊnst / (adj.) – very obvious or noticeable
Example: The twins’ differences have become more pronounced through the years.


Read the text below.
East Asian countries topped the 2015 TIMSS, or Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study, according to results released in November 2016.

Singapore, along with Hong Kong, Korea, Taiwan, and Japan, dominated the international assessment in 2015. The five countries have been in the assessment’s lead for 20 years now.

TIMSS is a large-scale international assessment that evaluates trends in math and science education worldwide. It is administered every four years since it began in 1995. Assessments are done to fourth-grade students (around nine to ten years old) and eighth-grade students (around 13 to 14 years old) from public and private schools in participating countries. In the assessment, students take math and science tests and complete questionnaires about their learning experiences in both subjects.

In 2015, more than 600,000 students from over 60 countries took part in the assessment. Singapore was recognized as the overall top performing country, after taking first place in the fourth- and eighth-grade categories in both science and math. This is the first time that Singapore took top spot in all categories since 2003, after making changes in their syllabus. According to Singapore’s Ministry of Education, the changes have allowed students to learn in a more active way.

Other countries that made the top 10 are Northern Ireland, Russia, Norway, Ireland, and England. England has reportedly improved greatly in both science and math scores from the first assessment in 1995. However, the 2015 results showed a drop in the country’s rankings.

Despite this result, England’s School Standards Minister hopes that changes implemented in the country’s curriculum in 2014 will have a more pronounced effect on England’s rankings in future assessments.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.  

Discussion A

·         How can countries participating in the TIMSS improve their scores?
·         What do you think are the advantages of being among the top performing countries? Discuss.

Discussion B

·         Do you think that written tests can really measure a student’s ability? Why or why not?
·         What are other ways to measure a student’s ability?

January 27, 2017