Study: NC students competitive with global counterparts

Posted December 11, 2012 1:48 p.m. EST
Updated December 11, 2012 7:07 p.m. EST

— New test results show North Carolina students are outperforming their international peers when it comes to science and math.

The Tar Heel State took part last year in the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study, which looked at how fourth- and eighth-grade students measure up with those in more than 60 other countries and states.

Results released Tuesday show that, overall, students performed at or above the international benchmark set out in the assessment.

North Carolina was the only participating state in the country and one of only eight education systems across the world – including Singapore, Hong Kong, Japan and Northern Ireland – in which fourth-grade math students outscored the test average and U.S. national average.

At the eighth-grade level, North Carolina was among four states, including Massachusetts and Minnesota, and seven countries to score higher than both the TIMSS scale and national averages.

In science, the average scores among fourth- and eighth-grade students in the state exceeded the TIMSS scale average but not the U.S. national average.

State Superintendent of Public Instruction June Atkinson said the results offer proof that North Carolina students can be competitive when it comes to a global marketplace and workplace.

She attributes the test results to two early-childhood education and providing professional development for teachers.

"The fact that our scores were comparable to scores from countries such as Singapore is a tribute to the work under way to remodel public education in this state."

Nationally, students are performing better than the global average but still lag behind those in Asia and Europe.

The TIMSS test is used to measure knowledge, skills and mastery of curricula by elementary and middle school students around the world.

Students in rich, industrialized nations and poor, developing countries alike are tested.

In 2011, 56 educational systems — mostly countries, but some states and subnational entities such as Hong Kong — took part in math and science exams.