Publication Date



TIMSS Australia Monograph no. 10


The primary aim of this report is to examine the performance of Australia’s Indigenous students who participated as part of the early secondary school (Year 8) cohort of the IEA Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS 2003). The performance of Indigenous students in this report has been compared to that of Australia’s non-Indigenous students across a number of variables that are known to affect student achievement in TIMSS generally (Martin, Mullis, Gonzalez & Chrostowski, 2004; Mullis, Martin, Gonzalez & Chrostowski, 2004). In total, 562 Year 8 Indigenous students from 207 schools across Australia participated in the study. Indigenous status in the report includes both Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. The analyses in this report categorised Indigenous students according to variables including gender, the student’s state and geographic location, student background characteristics and attitudes to learning, education resources in students’ homes, and the school’s socioeconomic composition. The average performance of Indigenous students in mathematics and science has been disaggregated by these variables in an attempt to identify those characteristics that may relate to Indigenous educational achievement. The analyses showed considerable differences in the level of Indigenous and non-Indigenous student achievement, and confirms findings from a large body of studies that have shown that Australia’s Indigenous students consistently perform at levels well below their non- Indigenous counterparts across all content domains in international studies (Lokan, Greenwood & Cresswell, 2001; Thomson, Cresswell & De Bortoli, 2004; Thomson & Fleming, 2004a, 2004b). Some of the examined variables related in a consistent manner to the mathematics and science achievement of Indigenous and non-Indigenous students. However in some circumstances, the relationship between some variables exacerbates or assists Indigenous achievement to a greater extent compared to that of non-Indigenous students.