12 Measuring global education goals: How TIMSS helps
Target 4.7: Education for Sustainable Development
TIMSS does in a somewhat unique way is provide some insights to the threat of climate change and instability by measuring students’ understanding of Earth Science and the associated knowledge and understanding that may be important to mitigating the worst threat. There are not many learning achievement surveys that provide fine-grained information on proficiency in the more specific domain of Earth Science. By contrast, the assessment of more general competence in science is comparatively more common. Results from TIMSS 2019 show that the percentage of students who achieved the Low International Benchmark is two percentage points higher for science than for Earth Science, on average. In three countries, the gap exceeds ten percentage points: Kazakhstan, Lebanon and Morocco.
Monitoring the core aspiration of target 4.7—acquisition of knowledge and skills needed for sustainable development—is not easy. A major challenge is the broad range of the target’s topics. Preparing learners for a future of climatic and environmental instability begins by helping them understand issues such as why and how climate change takes place, and its likely effects on habitats and ecosystems. TIMSS 2019 Grade 8 science assessment included questions designed to assess knowledge in four domains, one of which is Earth Science 12 . This domain assessed students, among other things, on their knowledge of the structure and physical featuresof Earthand theatmosphere, aswell asprocesses, cycles and patterns, including geological processes that have occurred over Earth’s history, the water cycle, and patterns of weather and climate. Earth’s resources and their use and conservation were also covered. What
FIGURE 4.7: Percentage of eighth-grade students who reached minimum proficiency level in the science domain and in its Earth Science sub-domain
Japan Rep. of Korea
TIMSS 2019 participating entities reflected in the figure have been selected by and named according to UNESCO.
Note: *Norway and South Africa administered the eighth-grade assessment to ninth-grade students.
Turkey United States
New Zealand Norway* France Sweden
Hong Kong SAR, China
U. A. Emirates
Iran, Isl. Rep.
Grade 8 students reaching Low International Benchmark in Earth Science (%)
teachers. The coverage of this material does not always correspond to performance. For instance, in Japan, just 5% of students had been taught the two concepts; yet, the performance of students was the highest of all participating countries. The fact that these students did well even though they had not been taught specific content suggests that education systems can help prepare students in more than one way.
TIMSS 2019 also collects information from teachers on whether particular Earth Science or Life Science concepts had been taught prior to or during eighth grade. For instance, on average across all participating countries, 72% of students had been taught interdependence of populations of organisms in an ecosystem and 69% had been taught Earth’s resources, their use and conservation, according to science
12 For more detail on the TIMSS 2019 Mathematics Frameworks and the TIMSS 2019 Science Frameworks please visit: http://timssandpirls. bc.edu/timss2019/frameworks/
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