Ethiopian Primary School Students’ Mathematics Achievement through the lens of the Trends International Mathematics and Science Study

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Addis Ababa University


Ethiopia has established the national learning assessment system since 2000. However, it never participated in any regional or large-scale international assessment, though, planned to join it as of the Fifth Education Sector Development Program. The purpose of this study is, therefore, to assess grade eight students' mathematics achievement through the lens of Trends International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS). This was a quantitative study, in which the released TIMSS mathematics achievement test items and context questionnaires were employed. The participants were 2,120 students selected through two-stage cluster sampling techniques from 53 schools of the three regions (Addis Ababa, Benishangul Gumuz, and Oromia) and school principals of the respective sample schools. Descriptive and inferential statistics were used to summarize the findings and generalize about a population from the samples. The results indicated that the overall achievements of students’ in mathematics were about 32% and 404 points in the raw and scale scores respectively. The mean scale score for Ethiopian students was significantly better than the mean score of four African countries that participated in TIMSS study in 2011 but lower than the international mean score (p < 0.05). There was a statistically significant achievement mean difference across gender and school location, in favour of boys and rural schools at p < 0.05. The highest regional average achievement was observed in Oromia and the lowest in Benshagul Gumuz, while Addis Ababa was in between. There was no statistically significant difference observed between the achievements of Ethiopian students' in this study and National Learning Assessment (NLA) study in 2016, with the mean scale scores of 302.05 and 300.36 respectively (p < 0.05). The main significant factors that affect the achievement of students were: gender, school location family SES, students' attitude to school and mathematics, instructional language, school feeding, school emphasis on academic success, and principals' qualification. In general, the achievement of students in mathematics was found below the expected national and international standards. Therefore, policy-makers and concerned stakeholders should give special attention to enhance the achievement of students in mathematics, particularly for those disadvantaged low achieving groups. Finally, to participate in International Large-scale Assessment (ILSAs) and make the right decision, further studies should be conducted countrywide as this study has left with unanswered questions



International Mathematics and Science Study