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TIMSS: the Kazakhstani students lag behind in math and science. What to do?

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«Педагогика  саласындағы ғылыми тәжірибе» Magazine, №3, 2015

Kazakhstani schoolchildren lag behind in level of mathematical and scientific competence from the leaders of the international study TIMSS (Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study). The coordinator of this unique project is an International Association for the evaluation of educational achievement (IEA).

Now in the sixth study TIMSS-2015 was attended by more than 600 thousand students 60 world education systems. The international coordinating center through probability proportional method is selected at least 150 schools participating from each country. Thus the number of participants is distributed to the entire population of students 4th and 8th grade.

Theory without practice

Kazakhstan has participated in three cycles of TIMSS 2007, 2011 and 2015. The results of Junior school pupils in the second cycle students of basic school  (in TIMSS-2007 – 4 students-grades) deteriorated.

Kazakhstan: the TIMSS Results/scores

Stateinformation: RK: participants in TIMSS-2007 - 3 990 students 4-graders (141 schools), TIMSS-2011 - 4 385 – 4-graders, 4 390 – 8-graders (154 schools).

One of the factors that influenced the low level of implementation of international assignments has become excessive theoretically school programs. The study material is not sufficiently relevant to the situational realities of everyday life. In Kazakhstan school textbooks there is practically no non-standard creative tasks. Understood the material requires only simple mechanical repetition and memorization. However, functional literacy of schoolchildren, which is now often spoken of, requires the formation of academic skills in students and integrating theory in the practice of life.

The uniqueness of the TIMSS study is that the assessment Toolkit contains the practical context. For example, the unit "Science" for the fourth-graders were offered a task:

Most of the students correctly identified numbers with pots. The difficulty caused students providing detailed explanation with justification of your answer.

A similar situation exists in the responses of secondary school students. When solving arithmetic problems with elements of geometry guys have experienced the difficulty of formulating a detailed written answers. This is the result of immature students the necessary skills for reading charts and graphs, analysis of situational tasks.

Example tasks for students in the 8th grade.

The content of Kazakhstan's educational programs with the prevailing context of these kinds of cognitive activity, as knowledge and understanding, is the result of the successful completion of tasks closed format with multiple choice answer.

Therefore, the following tasks Kazakhstani students perform better because they require students only playback of the received knowledge of mathematical and scientific concepts:

4 grade, mathematics

The number three thousand and twenty-three is written as:

А. 323

В. 3023

С. 30 023

D. 300 023

8 grade, science

Which of the following is a mixture?

А. Air

В. Water

С. Aluminum

D. Hydrogen


Today it is critical to refocus the educational process on the development of pupils skills of creative and exploratory activity, which in turn promotes the formation of research skills. This will be achieved in the presence of educational-methodical literature of questions and tasks of different level of complexity, having a practical orientation.

On the performance of participants in the tasks of international studies was also affected by insufficient exhaust system fastening mechanism previously passed the school. For example, a number of issues (percentages, proportions, etc.) related to the subject "Number" is completed in the course of mathematics of 5-6 classes and not actualized in grades 7-9 of basic school in the study of algebra and geometry. While foreign peers Kazakh students are studying such topics until high school. It is therefore important to use new educational technologies to reinforce educational material and methods of increasing the efficiency of each lesson.

Active implementation requires also used community best educational technology of critical thinking development in students. Test items of the international assessment of measurements contain questions where the student must reflect on the information presented and to form their own analytical judgment. The unique format of such questions requires the teacher's professionalism in the formation of all school students, regardless of their level of abilities, active and meaningful learning.

Almost each task TIMSS is accompanied by a drawing, graph, chart. Therefore, an effective measure of effective education is the effective use of interactive subject classrooms.

Undoubtedly, the results are directly dependent on the level and children's abilities to apply knowledge at the same time at the junction of several subjects. This in turn contributes to the delivery of integrated lessons.

The use of these technologies will allow to include in the traditional format of the test and control works similar international test tasks and questions. Today all the regional educational system have access to test items of international studies of past years, released from confidentiality.

A special role is given to the modernization of the content of school education. Flagships new educational strategies, taking into account best international experience are Nazarbayev Intellectual Schools. Here successfully introduce innovative learning technologies. They are aimed at developing students skills of such "broad spectrum", as the creative application of knowledge, critical thinking, project and research work, ability to work in a team and individually, etc. thus, the results on the "output" of schools using the A. Einstein's statement about the essence of education, can be considered to be "what remains after you forgotten everything they taught us in school".

It should be noted that large-scale updating of the content of Kazakhstan's educational programs today is correlated with recognized international educational community the conceptual model for the evaluation of educational achievement TIMSS and PISA. The new school curriculum reflects all the stages of the pedagogical goals.

Marked new priorities does not mean a rejection of traditional classical goals of school education. While maintaining the soundness of Kazakhstan's education is enhanced by its practical and vital component. New content gets the expected result of the formation successfully trained and able to educate an active and creative personality.

Thereby, a gradual transition to the new level of development will help to integrate the education system of Kazakhstan into the world educational space and will surely provide a significant increase in the quality of school education in the country.

Сhief analyst, Department of International Comparative Studies