Why are South African learners tested in Grade 5 and Grade 9 when other countries participate at the Grade 4 and Grade 8 level?
Answer: TIMSS is designed to align broadly with mathematics and science curricula in the participating countries. The results, therefore, suggest the degree to which learners have learned mathematics and science concepts and skills likely to have been taught in school. In 1995 and 1999, the survey targeted learners in Grade 8, the first year of secondary school. The 2002 study included both Grade 8 and Grade 9 learners in its sample, while 2011 and 2015 studies were undertaken at the Grade 9 level. The reason for changing the testing grade from Grade 8 to Grade 9 was because of South Africa’s overall low performance in the previous rounds of the study. A shift from testing Grade 8 learners to testing Grade 9 learners was judged to enable a better match between the content knowledge presented to learners in TIMSS and the curriculum coverage in South Africa.