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Education

Study: German students' mathematics achievement declines

The latest global TIMSS study has found that German students performed below the EU average in math scores. Students from East Asian countries continued to top the global charts for the math and science tests.

German fourth-graders' abilities in mathematics declined compared to results from four years ago, according to the TIMSS global science and math evaluations published on Tuesday.

In 2015, German students achieved a mean score of 522 - a six-point decrease from the country's 2011 average of 528.

Germany's scores came out above the global average of 500, but performed less favorably when compared to other European Union and OSCE partner countries. The average score for EU fourth-grade students in math was 527.

On the science test, German students stagnated, achieving the same average score of 528 that the country received in 2007 and in 2011 when the assessment was last administered. Eighth-graders in Germany did not participate in the 2015 study.

The study's results are "no reason to wear sackcloth and ashes," said the German TIMSS leader Professor Wilfried Bos during a presentation in Berlin, making a biblical reference to wearing clothes to demonstrate mourning.

Although there was no need to be ashamed by the 2015 outcome, "we must acknowledge that other countries performed better," Bos said. 

The global TIMSS exam is the world's longest-running international assessment of mathematics and science education for fourth and eighth-graders. In 2015, over 600,000 students took part in the exams in dozens of countries.

East Asian countries excel

A block of East Asian countries maintained its 20-year lead in achievement scores in both math and science with Singapore topping the rankings for both subjects and age groups.

Japan, Hong Kong, South Korea, and Taiwan outperformed all other countries. Russia fared well in the charts as well, coming in ahead of the US, UK and Germany.

Results from the exams showed generally positive achievement trends worldwide - with more countries registering increases in both math and science at both ages.

Gender gaps between boys and girls also narrowed over the last 20 years, particularly within science at the eighth-grade level.

"A lot of countries have been working hard to close that achievement gap, and have promoted girls' interest and participation in science," said Michael Martin, an executive director of the TIMSS & PIRLS International Study Center at Boston College.

The next TIMSS tests are set to take place in 2019.

rs/msh  (AP, dpa, KNA)

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