What is the purpose of TIMSS?

TIMSS aims to assess achievement in mathematics and science amongst pupils in over 60 countries worldwide. TIMSS is not solely focused on mathematics and science achievement. It also collects information about characteristics of schools, teachers, pupils and their homes to describe the learning environment in which pupils learn and teachers teach. This information can also be used to find out what makes a difference to achievement and to how pupils feel about their school and learning.

What is involved for my child?

The study is administered during normal school hours. A trained TIMSS administrator will visit each child’s school and conduct the study. Pupils will be asked to complete one paper-based booklet containing mathematics and science questions, there will be no need for any special preparation. Following the assessment, pupils will be asked to complete a questionnaire containing questions on their background, attitudes towards school and experiences. For example, pupils in TIMSS 2015 were, among other things, asked to state how much they enjoyed learning mathematics at school and how much they felt they belonged to the school.

NFER asks that parents complete a questionnaire regarding the home learning environment. This will be given to parents via schools.

Why is it important that my child takes part?

TIMSS provides children with the opportunity to tell us about their school and experiences and to represent Northern Ireland in an important global study that directly influences policy in their country and around the world.

Who is carrying out the study?

TIMSS is being delivered in Northern Ireland by the National Foundation for Educational Research (NFER) on behalf of the Department of Education. NFER also delivered the 2011 and 2015 TIMSS cycles in Northern Ireland.

The study is coordinated internationally by the International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement (IEA).

What happens to my child’s data?

  • The Department of Education is the data controller for the study and NFER, acting on behalf of the Department, is the data processor.
  • Neither NFER nor the Department of Education will pass on the results of pupils’ performance to anyone.
  • The responses to the study from pupils, parents and schools are treated in confidence and no school or individual will be identified in any of the TIMSS reports.
  • NFER will send the data to the international TIMSS team for analysis. The final data will be available on the IEA website, and all school and pupil data will be anonymised.

NFER take data protection very seriously and complies with the Data Protection Act 2018. Any personal information collected will be held securely. The information NFER collect is used to compare how well pupils learn mathematics and science around the world. No school, teacher or pupil is named or can be identified in any of the reports and information which is published. At their request, the Department of Education do not receive school level analysis. 

Please view the TIMSS 2019 privacy notice for further details about the information we collect and how we use it. A child-friendly  privacy notice for pupils is also available.

See FAQs for parents for more information.