ADDS UP

These are the world’s best students in science and math, by the numbers

Kids around the world were subjected to yet another math and science test, and once again, a handful of Asian countries crushed the rest of the world.

Singapore, Hong Kong, Korea, Chinese Taipei, and Japan continued to dominate the rankings for Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS), a set of math and science tests given every four years to 10- and 14-year olds around the world. Sixty countries participated this year.

Here are the numbers:

In math, the US fared worse than it did in 2011 when the test was last administered. Ten-year-olds fell from 11th to 14th place and 14-year-olds went from 9th to 10th place.

More than 600,000 students around the world participated in the 2015 assessment,which has been administered every four years since 1995. It is sponsored by the International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement (IEA) in Amsterdam, and conducted at the Lynch School of Education at Boston College. It’s one of a handful of tests administered around the world which include the OECD’s PISA test, whose results come out next month (here is a helpful description of how all these the tests differ).

Singapore dominates in science, as it does in math. The small island nation is a powerhouse: 14-year-old students receive on average 129 hours of math instruction a year, compared to 155 hours in the US, and yet manage to ace just about every test there is in the subject. (Though, as Quartz has pointed out, the country is trying hard to de-emphasize testing and promote a more holistic view of childhood.) Korea is even more dramatic: 14-year-olds spend only 114 hours a year, and still come out scoring well.

Here are the science scores, also dominated by Asian countries, along with Russia landing fourth place:

And the older kids:

The good news from the report was that most countries are improving their scores on math and science. In addition, countries that participated in both 1995 and 2015 saw reduced gender gaps, especially in science and among the older students.

On the other hand, some countries did not fare so well: Germany, Finland, Kuwait, the Netherlands and Saudi Arabia all did worse in 2015 than in 2011.

And top performers are slipping: TIMSS Advanced looks at students in their last year of secondary school who have taken advanced courses in STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering, and math). Over the past 20 years, there have been improvements in the nine countries examined and a few declines.

 

home our picks popular latest obsessions search