Expressing International Educational Achievement in Terms of U.S. Performance Standards
Linking NAEP Achievement Levels to TIMSS
Educators, researchers, and policymakers have considerable interest in how the American educational system compares to those in other countries. One major index for comparison is student academic achievement. Unfortunately, a lack of common metrics, as well as different definitions of performance standards, makes it difficult to compare measures of student achievement. The difficulty is similar to trying to compare the U.S. poverty level to that of other countries in the world. To do this, we first need a common metric. For example, we need to convert currencies of different countries to a common currency, such as dollars. Then we need a common definition and standard of poverty. That means either using a U.S. definition and standard and applying them to the rest of the world or using a common world definition and standard and applying those to the United States. No matter what common metric, definition, and standard are used, some people will argue it should have been done differently or not at all. This paper takes the position that such comparisons are not perfect, always require more research, and should be done with caution. However, such cross-country comparisons result in the cross-fertilization of information and help inform debate. In general, comparisons are useful in providing information to policymakers and the general public to help them achieve broad understandings that they otherwise would not have.
This paper links the scale of the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) to the scale of the Third International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS). The purpose of this linking is to project the NAEP achievement levels onto the TIMSS scale. More specifically, the grade 8 NAEP: 2000 achievement levels in mathematics and science are projected on to the grade 8 TIMSS: 1999 assessment in mathematics and science. The linking equation is also applied to the 2003 TIMSS in mathematics and science. The goal is to project the grade 8 mathematics and science achievement levels in NAEP onto the TIMSS scale and thereby estimate the percent of basic, proficient, and advanced students in each country that participated in the 1999 TIMSS and 2003 TIMSS studies. The three achievement levels used were basic, proficient, and advanced, for both mathematics and science, as defined in The Nation’s Report Card: Mathematics 2000, and The Nation’s Report Card: Science 2000, respectively. The TIMSS results may be found in TIMSS 1999: International Mathematics Report, TIMSS 1999: International Science Report, TIMSS 2003: International Mathematics Report, and TIMSS 2003: International Science Report.