Idaho Students Hold Their Own When Compared To Other Countries

Oct 24, 2013

Idaho teachers and education policy makers often talk about the importance of students' ability to compete in the global economy. A big part of that is comparing student performance across state lines and international borders. Now, a recent study gives Idaho educators data to back up their battle cries.

In the study, Idaho students rank just behind Finland and Israel in math, and slightly ahead of England and Hong Kong in science.

500 is the average on the international math test used in this study. The lowest scores are a little above 400. The bottom five countries are all in the Middle East including Iran and Jordan.
Credit Adam Cotterell / Boise State Public Radio

The study by the U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), wants to bridge a big problem in comparison; U.S. states and other countries take different tests. Countries are often compared using a test known as Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study, TIMSS for short. But only a handful of U.S. states take TIMSS (Idaho is not one of them.) So, using scores from a test that all states do take, NCES tried to figure out how U.S. 8th graders in 2011 would have done if they had taken TIMSS.

The study compares each U.S. state with 38 countries, some Canadian provinces, and a handful of cities like Hong Kong and Taipei. Idaho ranked above the U.S and international TIMSS averages and between the intermediate and high benchmarks. In math Idaho was in the lower-middle of the pack of U.S. states, but only nine places outside the U.S. did better.

In science, Idaho also beat the U.S. and international averages and was closer to the high benchmark. Idaho students ranked in the middle for all U.S. states, topping all but eight places outside the U.S.

500 is the average score for the international science test. At the bottom with scores a little higher than 400 were Indonesia, Lebanon and Macedonia.
Credit Adam Cotterell / Boise State Public Radio

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