The Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) is an assessment of mathematics and science that has been monitoring trends in pupil achievement at Years 5 and 9 since 1995. TIMSS takes place every 4 years in over 60 countries and provides internationally comparable data on pupils’ attainment in mathematics and science, and how their performance is related to their attitudes, gender and background. In addition, TIMSS includes teacher and school questionnaires, which provide valuable information on teacher and school leaders’ views on teaching mathematics and science.
The field trial takes place a year before the main study and is an opportunity to trial how the TIMSS 2023 assessments, questionnaires and processes work with a small sample of schools and pupils. Lessons learned from the field trial can be used to improve the main study - it is therefore a very important and influential part of the study.
The field trial will take place in March 2022.
In the welcome letter, addressed to your headteacher, a date is given for the study to be conducted at your school. We hope that this date is convenient for your staff and pupils, and that suitable room(s) can be made available. If for any reason this date is not suitable, your TIMSS school coordinator can contact our TIMSS support team to suggest an alternative date for the study to take place. Our TIMSS support team will reply to confirm a new date.
Following a rigorous sampling process, your school has been randomly selected to participate in TIMSS by the International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement (IEA). One of the requirements of the study is to ensure that the sample of participating schools is representative of schools in England. We are only able to approach schools that are selected through the random sampling approach, to ensure the results show a true representation of the full range of schools in England in respect of size, location and school type. Please see https://www.iea.nl/studies/iea/timss/timss2023 for detailed information on the study methodology.
TIMSS is a major international study monitoring mathematics and science achievement. It is a vital part of the international evidence base, allowing the Department for Education (DfE) to benchmark England’s performance against other countries, to measure trends over time, to identify and analyse factors that impact pupil attainment, and to learn from policies and practices in other countries.
The schools and pupils that participate in TIMSS are making a valuable contribution to the understanding of our education system and it is only with this participation that we can realise the opportunities that TIMSS brings to improve our educational policies and practices. By participating in TIMSS, you will be:
supporting a study that helps us better understand our education system, directly influencing national policy and developments.
contributing to an international evidence base that informs policies and strategies to help address the challenges associated with raising standards and reducing attainment gaps.
giving your pupils the experience of representing England in an important global study.
providing your pupils with the opportunity to practise their mathematics and science skills through an interesting and innovative online assessment.
No, the National Study Centre (Pearson) will provide a test administrator who will visit the school on the assessment day and have responsibility for running the study. TIMSS test administrators are experienced education professionals, often ex-teachers who all have DBS clearance, and COVID-safe protocols, ensuring our staff adhere to the most up-to-date guidelines. However, we do ask that a member of the school staff stays in the room during the assessment.
Pupils will complete a mathematics and science assessment, followed by a short survey and a pupil questionnaire.
The TIMSS study comprises a computer-based assessment of mathematics and science. Pupils and staff will also be asked to complete an online questionnaire to provide important contextual information to supplement the assessment data. The pupil questionnaire asks participating pupils about aspects of their home and school lives, including demographic information, their home environment, school climate for learning, and their attitudes towards learning mathematics and science. The school questionnaire asks a range of contextual questions about the participating schools, including demographic characteristics of the school’s pupils, the availability of resources for teaching, and the school’s learning environment. The teacher questionnaire asks participating teachers about their education, professional development, and experience in teaching, as well as their teaching of mathematics and science classroom activities and strategies.
The whole process will take approximately 2.5 hours, including the assessment itself, survey, questionnaire and breaks. No prior preparation is required from pupils. Most schools aim to complete the study by lunch, though we can make arrangements to start later. The assessment is split into 2 sessions and will take around 1.5 hours in total. After a 5-10 minute break, pupils will be asked to complete the online questionnaire, which will take around 30 minutes.
Our test administrator will arrive at least an hour before your chosen start time to prepare the room. The school coordinator should aim to arrive at the same time. Parking on the school premises is welcomed if available. The school and teacher questionnaires can be completed in advance online. Instructions on how to access the questionnaire will be sent to the school coordinator to distribute. These questionnaires should take about half an hour each to complete. If 2 classes are chosen in the school it can make sense to assess 1 class in the morning and the 2nd class after lunch to make best use of IT facilities. Guidance will be provided by the TIMSS support team for schools with 2 classes.
No prior preparation or work is required for pupils to be able to complete the assessment and minimal administration is required from school staff. Pupils should bring a book to read quietly in case they finish the assessment early.
Pupils will need access to an internet enabled computer with keyboard and mouse to complete the study. An IT room, or two, depending on the number of pupils, is ideal, or alternatively a classroom can be used with laptops. The IT room or classroom used should be quiet and free from distraction.
If the school doesn’t have enough computers in IT rooms or laptops for use in classroom, additional laptops can be provided. These will be provided with the assessment material pre-installed, and therefore will not require internet access.
Each pupil will need to take the assessment on a laptop or PC in a room. Each pupil will need a laptop or PC for a duration of 2.5 hours. If laptops are used they should be fully charged before the day of the study.
The assessments are online and so wi-fi and internet connection will be required for pupils to access both the assessment and the questionnaire. We will liaise closely with your nominated school coordinator and IT coordinator ahead of the assessment day to ensure that the IT facilities in your school are set up correctly. A 5 minute automated test of a computer on the school system will need to take place ahead of the assessment day, and a link will be provided for this. The TIMSS tests will be accessed over the internet using a secure log in. We also ask if possible that your IT coordinator is available on the assessment day to assist with any issues that may arise.
You will be informed of the class/classes chosen as soon as the sampling is complete; we expect this to happen between December 2021 and January 2022. The majority of schools will have one class selected, but some larger schools will have two classes selected to participate. It is important that all the pupils in the sample carry out the required activity, however pupils with Special Educational Needs (SEN) or Education, Health and Care (EHC) plans can be excluded by the school. You will be informed of the chosen class(es) as soon as the sampling is complete, and you will have the opportunity to notify us if the test will not be appropriate for any of your pupils.
The TIMSS support team will support your TIMSS school coordinator throughout the process and aim to keep administration to a minimum. The Year 5 or Year 9 class teacher or teaching assistant is often selected for the role. The main duties include:
being the main point of contact for Pearson and the TIMSS test administrator.
agreeing the date and making the arrangements for pupils to complete the activities in the school.
working with Pearson to confirm details of all eligible pupils and then those sampled to participate.
informing pupils and parents of the study using the letter templates provided by Pearson.
informing the board of governors about the school’s participation in the TIMSS study (your headteacher may wish to do this).
ensuring IT facilities are set up ready for online assessments - FAQ 12.
ensuring secure storage of any materials sent prior to the study.
overseeing the distribution, completion and collection of school and teacher questionnaires prior to the test date (Teacher and School questionnaires will be available to complete online or can be completed on paper if the school wishes to do so).
before the assessment day, confirming the date and time with the test administrator.
on the assessment day, supporting the TIMSS test administrator as needed (see Next Steps document ‘Day of the study’).
if may be helpful to have IT support available on the day of testing (optional) however immediate help with IT troubleshooting will be available from the TIMSS support team.
To check that we are delivering the study in a similar way in all schools, a quality monitor may attend your test session. If this happens, the school coordinator will be asked some questions about the arrangements you were required to make and your views of the way in which the study was organised.
We will provide template letters for you to send to pupils taking part in the study and their parents/guardians. These templates will be emailed to you so you can edit them as necessary and print or distribute electronically. We will also provide you with a letter on data privacy which must be included with your letter to parents and should not be altered. Letters should be sent once we have confirmed the pupils taking part in the study (not before).
Yes - pupil and school identities will remain confidential and data will only be shared with the study organiser, the IEA, via secure channels.
The information collected from your school will only be accessible at individual school and pupil level (but not containing any personal identifiers) to the TIMSS project team. The dataset shared with the international study organisers will be de-identified, so that no individual school or pupil can be identified. The Department for Education and any organisation granted access to the data for the purposes of international comparison or research will not publish information which identifies or makes it possible to identify any individual or school participating in the study.
We take data protection very seriously and follow the Data Protection Act 2018 and General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR). Any personal information we collect will be held securely and no individual pupil or school will be identified or identifiable in any report or publication.