The Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) was conducted in 2015. NFER has been commissioned by the Department of Education to undertake the survey in Northern Ireland. In Northern Ireland pupils aged 9 – 10, that is Year 6 pupils, took part in the survey.

What is the purpose of TIMSS?

The study aims to assess achievement in mathematics and science amongst pupils in over 60 countries world-wide. TIMSS provides the opportunity to compare achievement internationally and to learn from different countries’ experiences. TIMSS is not solely focused on mathematics and science achievement. It also collects information about characteristics of schools, teachers, pupils and their homes to examine the learning environment in which pupils learn and teachers teach. This information can be used to identify factors that influence academic achievement and pupils’ attitudes towards learning and to provide educational policymakers, school leaders, teachers and researchers with powerful insights in order to make recommendations aimed at improving teaching and learning mathematics and science.

What is involved for schools?

School participation is very important to ensure that we gather enough representative data in Northern Ireland to make the results of the study reliable. If your school was selected to participate in the study, you will have received an invitation letter and information pack.

  • Selected schools needed to assign a School Contact for the survey, to communicate with NFER.
  • The survey took place at school at a convenient time for you.
  • The survey took place during normal school hours and took about two and a half hours.
  • But, schools did not need to administer or collect the tests and questionnaires themselves. A trained TIMSS administrator brought everything to the school and ran the session on the day of the assessment.
  • The assessments were paper based and included multiple choice and open-ended questions. All marking was done by NFER.
  • The principal and class teacher also each received a questionnaire which took 30–40 minutes to complete and provided important background information to help us understand what makes successful learners.

What happens to the data?

The NFER adheres strictly to the Data Protection Act and, to ensure confidentiality, no information concerning individual pupils, teachers or schools will be identified in any report.

  • The Department of Education will not be advised which schools have been selected to participate in the study.
  • Neither the NFER nor the Department of Education will pass on the results of schools’ performance to anyone.
  • Although the final data will be available on the IEA website, all schools and pupils will be anonymised.
  • NFER will send the data to the international TIMSS team for analysis. All published data will be anonymous.