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Idaho math and science scores: a global view

When it comes to test scores in math, Idaho lands on the map smack dab between Finland and Ontario. (Canada, that is, not Oregon.)

In science, Idaho is a little north of Hong Kong, and a little south of the Russian Federation.

Those are the geographically jumbled results of a new study that looks at how individual states stack up, internationally, on math and science tests. The bottom line: Idaho outperformed the international averages in both disciplines — but lagged behind nations such as Japan, Chinese Taipei and the Republic of Korea (or South Korea).

The National Center for Education Statistics calculated the scores by using eighth-graders’ results on the National Assessment of Educational Progress. Those scores, in turn, were synced against results from the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study, a global assessment of fourth- and eighth-graders. But only a handful of states administer the TIMSS exam, and Idaho isn’t one of them — hence the comparisons based on NAEP results.

“We conducted this study because it’s important to know how students educated in U.S. states are performing against international standards. We found that most eighth-graders in the U.S. are competitive in math and science when their predicted performances were compared to their peers from around the globe,” NCES Commissioner Jack Buckley said in a news release. “Still, our leading states are behind the highest-performing countries.”

Here’s a thumbnail look at how Idaho stacked up (and here’s a link that will lead you to a detailed look at the scores):

  • In math, Idaho’s average score was 513, a little higher than the U.S. average of 509. Idaho scored significantly higher than 33 other educational systems internationally. Seven educational systems scored significantly higher than Idaho: the Republic of Korea, Singapore, Chinese Taipei, Hong Kong, Japan, the Russian Federation, and Quebec, Canada.
  • In science, Idaho scored a 536; the U.S. average was 525. Idaho scored significantly higher than 37 other educational systems. Six educational systems scored significantly higher than Idaho: Singapore, Chinese Taipei, the Republic of Korea, Japan, Finland and Alberta, Canada.

Kevin Richert is a reporter and blogger at Idaho Education News (idahoednews.org). Kevin is a former Statesman editorial page editor, with 27 year's experience in Idaho journalism.

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