Measuring global education goals: How TIMSS helps
Policy implications TIMSS is not explicitly designed to measure SDGs and therefore TIMSS data are not always an exact match for the target definition 4 . There are, however, important overlaps between what TIMSS measures and what is included in the SDGs. Therefore, the results of the analyses presented in this booklet can be considered proxy measures. TIMSS data can shed light on and benchmark country progress to achieve some SDG 4 targets related to student achievement, access to early childhood care and education (ECCE), reducing inequities, knowledge and skills acquisition for sustainable development, and building better learning and teaching environments. Based on the data of TIMSS 2019, education policies need to continue developing evidence-based targeted strategies to address existing challenges. While similar proportions of Grade 4 boys and girls reached minimum proficiency in mathematics, a widening gender gap based on average scores favouring boys compared to 2015 data suggests the need for a refocused strategy, additional resources and differentiated instruction beginning at early primary grades to eliminate the gender gap. Meanwhile, at Grade 8, more countries show more girls meeting minimum proficiency than boys suggesting the need for ongoing efforts to reduce disparity. Data showed that where students had greater disparity of access to ‘resources’ (particularly in middle-income countries), the proportion of students that met minimum proficiency decreases. Efforts to improve access to various resources should not mimic or
exacerbate disparities but aim to narrow them. Digital divides should also be minimized with teachers and students having access to a range of technologies including radio and television. Based on the finding of fewer in-service training opportunities, Grade 4 students’ teachers may require additional training or that the limited resources be spread out more equitably based on critical needs, especially where hybrid learning models will be used. More broadly, improvement to teacher quality would be a critical response including enhanced standards for initial teacher education. It also includes more and better-quality in-service teacher training. This is true for those high-income countries where in-service training is less common and for some middle-income countries where it is needed to improve upon teachers’ lower initial qualifications and skills. Online learning allows for greater anonymity in communication between students and teachers and students themselves. Due to the negative effects of all forms of bullying, better responses to combat it (including cyber-bullying) are needed, such as awareness/sensitization campaigns for students, training for teachers, and mechanisms for handling complaints. Based on countries’ varying progress in student outcomes, including knowledge of sustainable development and access to ECCE, government expenditures to education should be increased or at least sustained to target ongoing challenges, particularly in light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
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