OSLO, Nov. 29 (Xinhua) -- Primary school students in Norway show excellence in mathematics, while lower secondary school students are at medium good level in both mathematic and natural sciences, the government said on Tuesday.
Norwegian fifth graders are best in mathematics in Scandinavia, while in Europe, only fifth graders from Russia and Northern Ireland are better than Norwegian ones, the Ministry of Education and Research said in a statement.
The results are found in the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) for 2015, which measures students' knowledge in mathematics and natural sciences.
Norwegian Minister of Education and Research Torbjorn Roe Isaksen said that Norwegian teachers "do a job worth being proud of."
"We see a positive trend since the introduction of the Knowledge Promotion Reform," Isaksen said. "The knowledge promotion represented an important turn in schools, when we became more focused on what the students learned."
Hege Nilssen, director of Norwegian directorate for education and training, said positive development in the fourth grade has also been confirmed. "This is really pleasing because we have been heavily committed to mathematics and numeracy education," she said.
The performance of Norwegian fifth graders in natural sciences is equal to those in Sweden and England, but lower than Finland and the United States.
The number of teachers with professional specialization in Norway is lower than other European and Scandinavian countries. Around half of the Norwegian students from the study of last year are taught by teachers without professional specialisation.
The TIMSS research shows that teachers' professional specialization is important for the quantity of students' learning.
"The government has introduced a requirement that all teachers that teach Norwegian, English and mathematics should have professional specialization. We have started a historic commitment to continuing education for teachers. The findings in the TIMSS show that this is the way to go," Isaksen said.
The TIMSS shows that teachers' education level and pedagogic safety could reduce importance of students' family background.
The report also shows that Norwegian ninth graders are medium well in mathematics in comparison to other European countries. They perform at higher level than Sweden and at the same level with England and the United States.
Nilssen said that there is a need to examine the reason why lower graders score better than older students.
"We have put forward a strategy for science subjects and introduced an extra lesson of natural sciences in primary schools. Now we have to see whether we could get more of natural sciences in the school schedule for lower secondary school as well," Isaksen said.
The TIMSS 2015 shows also that the learning environment is very good in Norway compared to the other countries from the survey.
"This is very positive. School is about more than just professional results. We are dedicated to thriving of all the students and we see that there is a lot of good work done in schools," the minister said.
The TIMSS is an international study in mathematics and natural sciences in primary and lower secondary schools. Since 1995 it has been implemented every fourth year. Norway has participated each time, except in 1999.
Only just 60 countries participate in the TIMSS 2015. Europe makes the biggest group with 29 countries. Out of Scandinavian countries only Iceland dose not participate.
The TIMSS is implemented by research organization International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement (IEA).