SINGAPORE – Singapore students are the world’s best in mathematics and science, according to a global benchmarking study released on Tuesday (Nov 29).
Primary 4 pupils and Secondary 2 students here topped both subjects in the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS), a widely recognised achievement test by policymakers and educators worldwide.
Around 12,600 students here took part in the latest test which was conducted in Singapore in October 2014. Students across all schools – 179 primary schools and 167 secondary schools – as well as streams were included in the sample.
Primary 4 pupils achieved the highest mean score of 618 in mathematics, with Hong Kong coming in second with a score of 615. The same pupils also attained the highest score of 590 in science, ahead of South Korea which had 589.
Secondary 2 students who took the test were also ranked first with top scores of 621 and 597 for mathematics and science respectively, beating South Korea and Japan.
The results also showed improvements by Singapore students on various fronts from reasoning and application abilities to progress made by weaker students. This is the second time that students here outdid all other countries across all four categories in the study, which takes place every four years. The last time it did so was in 2003.
In a statement on Tuesday (Nov 29), the Ministry of Education (MOE) said that the findings show that schools’ efforts to impart higher-order thinking skills to students and programmes that cater to their learning needs are bearing fruit.
MOE said the test results also highlighted the progress made by academically weaker students. The proportion of students with the lowest score of below 400 was much smaller than the international average. For example, in the Primary 4 mathematics test, only 1 per cent of Singapore students scored below 400. The international average was 7 per cent.
The latest round of TIMSS by the International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement tested more than 582,000 students from 64 education systems.
Singapore has taken part in every cycle of TIMSS since its inception in 1995.
Here are some sample questions from the study: