Dubai students’ TIMSS score still below international average

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Student achievement in 2011 Trends in Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) is higher than in 2007, Dubai’s Knowledge and Human Development Authority (KHDA) has announced. The scores place Dubai highest among Middle Eastern countries.

The international assessment, which takes place every four years, tests student knowledge in mathematics and science at Grades 4 and 8. For the first time, Dubai also took part in Progress in International Reading Literacy Study (PIRLS), which assesses reading and literacy skills at Grade 4.

The latest results show that Dubai’s score has increased by 17 points in Grade 8 Maths, and by 24 points in Grade 4 Maths, though it is still below the international average of 500. Dubai’s overall average in PIRLS indicated the highest reading skills in the region amongst Grade 4 students, falling 24 points below the international average.

With the exception of those schools whose language of instruction is not Arabic or English, a total of 12,000 students from private and public schools in Dubai participated in the assessments, giving educators and policymakers comprehensive data about students’ academic attainment and progress.

Students attending IB and UK schools rated ‘good’ or ‘outstanding’ by the Dubai Schools Inspections Bureau (DSIB) outperformed students attending other schools in Dubai, and achieved above the international average in both TIMSS and PIRLS across all grades. The achievement of students at schools which received an unsatisfactory inspection rating, meanwhile, was well below the TIMSS and PIRLS average.

Emirati students, the majority of whom are enrolled in private and public Ministry of Education (MoE) curriculum schools, scored lower than their expatriate counterparts in each curriculum. Emirati students enrolled in UK curriculum schools, however, achieved greater scores than those attending MoE schools. Across all curriculum types, female Emirati students were found to outperform Emirati male students in all but Grade 4 mathematics at Private MoE schools.

Dr Abdulla Al Karam, director general of KHDA said: “International assessments such as TIMSS and PIRLS are crucial in providing us with a standardised tool to measure the quality of education provision compared to other countries and ensure that students in Dubai are given opportunities similar to their peers worldwide.

“Students’ improved achievement in 2011 TIMSS and PIRLS speaks to the commitment Dubai’s schools have made to increasing the quality of education they offer. We look forward to participating in future TIMSS and PIRLS cycles, to ensure that schools continue to make progress and provide every student in Dubai with access to high quality education.”

Jameela Al Muhairi, Chief of DSIB said: “Results of the 2011 TIMSS and PIRLS reinforce the evidence we have gathered from five years of school inspections. By combining data from inspections and international assessments, we will be able to develop more sound and effective improvement policies.

“We will continue to share results of inspections and international assessments in a transparent manner, and will provide each participating school with detailed information about their students’ performance in TIMSS and PIRLS. We believe this transparency will continue to inform improvement strategies and result in better quality learning and teaching throughout Dubai’s schools.”

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