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Measuring Up: How the Highest Performing State (Massachusetts) Compares to the Highest Performing Country (Hong Kong) in Grade 3 Mathematics


"Higher expectations for achievement and greater exposure to more difficult and complex mathematics are among the major difference between Hong Kong, home of the world's top-performing 4th grade math students, and Massachusetts, which is the highest scoring state on the U.S. National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP), according to a report by the American Institutes for Research (AIR). While Massachusetts 4th grade students achieved a respectable fourth place when compared with countries taking the 2007 Grade 4 Trends in Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS-4), Hong Kong students outperformed the Bay State 4th graders in numerous categories. To help understand why Hong Kong students outperform Massachusetts students, the AIR study identified differences between the items on Hong Kong's and Massachusetts' internal mathematics assessments administered in the spring of grade 3 in 2007 to gather insight into the relative mathematical expectations in Hong Kong and Massachusetts. ...

Researchers sought to identify differences between Hong Kong and Massachusetts in the hope of guiding all U.S. states to reexamine and strengthen their mathematics assessments and to focus on expectations relating to these differences in the early grades, as research has shown a strong correlation between a country's performance in early grades and later performance in the upper grades. The study was funded by the U.S. Department of Education."