TIMSS 2007

The TIMSS (Trends in Mathematics and Science Study) 2007 report is out.  The headline news is that England has jumped up the ranking for performance in science and maths at P2 and S2, whilst Scotland has remained pretty much where it was back in 2003.

This is clearly not good news for any politician, but I was rather alarmed to hear Fiona Hyslop's knee-jerk reaction that these figures called for urgent action.

Don't we have a clear agenda in Scotland for progress in education, called A Curriculum for Excellence?  Doesn't it say that we seek to develop 4 capacities in our young people?  Is it not inevitable that our attempt to develop these 4 capacities might result in our youngsters doing slightly less well in dry measurments of subject-based competencies?  Is aCfE not doomed if we launch into defensive action the first time a study suggests that this might be happening?

I am certain that the Latin skills of the average 16 year old in Scotland have declined dramatically since 1950.  I am equally certain that this is not a cause for concern.  Is anyone in power going to be brave enough to stand up and say that the same might be true of the TIMSS results?  If not, then their support for A Curriculum For Excellence is just so much hot air.

No teacher in Scotland should be complacent about the numeracy and science skills of our young people.  They matter a great deal.  But we should pause to reflect before acting.

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