Australian Students Rise in Global Science and Maths Ranks

December 8, 2020 Updated: December 9, 2020

Australian students have risen in global calculations for mathematics and science, outstripping many of their international peers.

In a test of 580,000 students from 64 countries last year, 14,950 Year 4 and 8 pupils from 571 Australian schools made up ground in all four brackets.

The results of the 2019 Trends in Mathematics and Science Study, released on Dec. 8, show Australia’s Year 4s ranked 14th out of 58 nations for science (up 11 spots) and 27th for maths (up one).

Among the crop of participating Year 8s, the nation’s students climbed into the top 10 out of 39 countries for both science and maths—up eight and seven places respectively.

TIMMS (Trends in international mathematics and science study) is held every four years and tests a student’s knowledge of the content of a defined curriculum, unlike the Programme for International Student Assessment which evaluates how well students apply reading, maths and science skills to situations.

Last year’s 2018 PISA results (OECD’s Programme for International Student Assessment) painted a bleak picture of students’ development, as Australia placed 16th in reading, 29th in maths and 17th in science.

It was the nation’s lowest scores since the international study started testing 15-year-olds in 2000, with Education Minister Tehan at the time saying the results should ring alarm bells.

Despite acknowledging Australia’s encouraging 2019 TIMMS rankings, Tehan indicated the federal government isn’t resting on its laurels.

“Our government is focused on improving the literacy and numeracy skills of Australian students because they are the fundamental building blocks of a successful education,” he said in a statement on Tuesday.

“These results suggest our education system is moving in the right direction but, as the PISA results last year demonstrated, we all must maintain our focus on student outcomes and achieving the highest standards.”


• 14th out of 58 countries for Year 4 science, up 11 places.

• Ninth out of 39 countries for Year 8 science, up eight places.

• 10th out of 39 countries for Year 8 mathematics, up seven places.

• 27th out of 58 countries for Year 4 mathematics, up one place.

Callum Godde in Melbourne