N.Y. 8th-graders exceed average in math, science

New York’s eighth-graders are above average in math and science compared with their peers in the United States and around the globe, according to a study released Thursday.

The study compared every state with education systems in more than three dozen countries as a way to let states gauge the global competitiveness of their students. New York was among 36 states whose eighth-grade students performed above the international average in both subjects.

“We conducted this study because it’s important to know how students educated in the U.S. states are performing against international standards,” said Jack Buckley, commissioner of the Education Department’s National Center for Education Statistics, which released the findings.

In math, New York’s eighth-grade students scored within the top 10 in the U.S., but not when ranked in a combined list of other states and countries. South Korea, Singapore, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Japan were the top scorers in math followed by Massachusetts, Vermont, Minnesota, New Jersey and New Hampshire.

In science, New York students were behind eighth-graders in 19 other states and peers in a handful of countries, including overall leader Singapore, as well as Taiwan, Finland and Japan. New York students scored about equal with Hong Kong. Massachusetts was again the top-performing state.

To do the comparisons, researchers took eighth-grade test results in math and science from the 2011 National Assessment of Educational Progress, NAEP, to predict performance on the international comparative study test known as the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study, TIMSS.

Some countries including China, India, France and Germany did not participate.

The study also looked at the numbers of “advanced” achievers in the United States and the other countries. In math, 10 percent of New York eighth-grade students met that benchmark, compared with about half of the students in Taiwan, South Korea and Singapore.

In science, 16 percent of New York eighth-grade students achieved the advanced benchmark. Singapore, with 40 percent, posted the biggest percentage of high achievers in that subject, followed by Massachusetts and Taiwan, where 24 percent of students met the benchmark.