Tackling TIMMS


ONCE every four years, selected Form Two students sit for the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS).

Just last week, the 2019 results of the international benchmarking assessment were released and Malaysia’s average overall scale scores in the subjects have decreased.

On the bright side, the Education Ministry said some students had scored more than 700 points in Mathematics and Science for the first time since Malaysia began taking part in 1999.

In a statement on Dec 8, the ministry said for Mathematics, 25 paper-and-pencil TIMSS (paperTIMSS) students and 65 eTIMSS students scored more than 700 points. The highest individual score for paperTIMSS was 799 points while that for eTIMSS was 764 points.

As for Science, 13 paperTIMSS students and 23 eTIMSS students achieved a score of more than 700 points. The highest individual score was 778 points for paperTIMSS and 747 points for eTIMSS. This, the ministry said, is the highest individual score for the subject since Malaysia’s participation in TIMSS. The computer-based assessment eTIMSS was conducted with the paperTIMSS in the 2019 edition of the international benchmarking assessment.

Last year, the benchmarking exercise classified students into four levels of achievement – advanced (625 points), high (550), intermediate (475), and low (400).The ministry said 1,560 students were involved in paperTIMSS and 8,077 for eTIMSS.

Compared to other participating countries, Malaysia sits at the bottom half of the tables.

According to the International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement (IEA), which runs TIMSS, over 580,000 students in 64 countries and eight global benchmarking systems participated in TIMSS 2019, with half of the countries transitioning to eTIMSS.

Our Form Two students rank 29th in Science while we are 28th position in Mathematics.

Singapore led in both subjects. Our neighbour down south chalked up an average score of 616 for Mathematics. Trailing behind Singapore were Chinese Taipei, Korea, Japan, and Hong Kong SAR, which continued to outperform all TIMSS countries in Mathematics by a substantial margin.

The IEA said East Asian countries were strong in Science too, but the results were more varied. In eighth grade (equivalent to Malaysia’s Form Two) Science, Singapore was the top performer, scoring 34 points higher than Chinese Taipei at 608. Chinese Taipei was followed by Japan, Korea, Russia and Finland which all performed well. TIMSS 2019 is the seventh TIMSS assessment cycle, providing 24 years of trends since the first assessment in 1995. TIMSS is also conducted for the fourth grade but Malaysia’s Year Four pupils do not take part in this.

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