Alarming TIMSS results show that Australian students continue to slide backwards in global maths and science rankings

What problem is TIMMS highlighting?

The Trends in Internat­ional Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS), conducted every 4 years, measures student achievement in maths and science at Year 4 and Year 8 in Australia and many other countries. TIMSS assesses 630,000 students across 49 countries in Year 4 and in 39 countries in Year 8.

The recently released TIMSS results reveal little change in Australian students’ achievement since 1995.

These alarming results have sparked calls from education commentators for Australia to “wake up’’, reject short-term fixes, raise the effectiveness of teaching, and improve retention and training of qualified maths and science teachers. Further, Australia has had little success in closing equity gaps between students from indigenous and non-indigenous backgrounds and lower and higher socio-economic backgrounds.

During this same period (1995-2015), other high-performing countries such as Singapore, Korea, Hong Kong, Chinese Taipei and Japan have made steady improvements. Other countries including Canada, England, Ireland, Northern Ireland, the US and Kazakhstan have improved and now outperform Australia.

TIMSS shows that Australian Year 4 students are significantly outperformed by students in 21 countries in mathematics and 17 countries in science. Year 8 students are outperformed by those in 12 countries in mathematics and 14 in science.

Commentators say that this is a national challenge that requires a national response. We need Australia to take urgent action to access this decline in academic outcomes and the answer is not to just do more of the same.

The Fogarty Foundation is addressing this challenge of declining trends in students outcomes for students in disadvantaged communities through the Fogarty EDvance Program.

EDvance program results show that educational inequality CAN be addressed at a whole school and a state wide level.

Fogarty EDvance is a 3 year whole school improvement program for school leaders in disadvantaged communities. The program works with school executive teams to help them transform student outcomes in their schools by providing them with best practice tools and research, rich data sets, ex-principal mentors and peer support. Over the 3 years schools turn theory into action by designing and implementing strategies that fit their unique school context.

We believe that by improving the quality of leadership in schools we can enable high quality teaching, enhance parent and community support for the school and achieve our fundamental aim: an Australia where all children, regardless of background, attain an excellent education.

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To learn more about the Fogarty EDvance Program, visit the website

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