Counting on the Future: International Benchmarks in Mathematics for American School Districts

Gary W. Phillips and John Dossey
American Institutes of Research
October 2008

AIR's Gary Phillips previously applied an ingenious analytic technique to crosswalk states' NAEP results to international TIMSS scores so that states could see how their kids compare (in math and science) with those of other lands. In a new paper being released today at the annual meeting of the Council of the Great City Schools, Phillips and math educator John Dossey extend that analysis (confined to math) to the large urban districts taking part in NAEP's "TUDA" program. This enables them to show how each of 11 large U.S. cities compares, in grades 4 and 8, with youngsters in a host of foreign countries in terms of what fraction of their pupils attain NAEP's "proficient" level. We learn, for example, that Boston's 8th graders do worse than Estonia's and the Netherlands' but better than Armenia's and Italy's. Officials in those communities will surely find this interesting as will everyone bent on "international benchmarking." One advantage of TIMSS's similarity to NAEP is that this kind of comparison can be made, which is not the case with the much-lauded PISA exam. You can find the Phillips-Dossey paper here.

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