About the Tool

Supporting K-12 mathematics and science learning by making large-scale assessment resources accessible, relevant, and useful for U.S. teachers

This Tool is designed for U.S. teachers who would like to learn more about the errors students make, or the misconceptions they have, in mathematics and science across the grades. Here you can find items from the TIMSS and TIMSS Advanced assessments, which are searchable by learning goals and which illustrate specific student performance expectations, common errors, and misconceptions related to selected mathematics and science topics. You can also find contextual information you’ll need to use the items for instruction or classroom assessment.

The assessment items and student performance data in the AIR Educator Tool are from the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) and TIMSS Advanced, which together have provided comparative data on the mathematics and science achievement of students in the 4th, 8th, and 12th grades since 1995. The items from these assessments have been developed and refined by teams of mathematics and science experts, field-tested with diverse student populations, and administered to nationally representative samples of students. Thus, they are a valuable resource for educators.

The TIMSS and TIMSS Advanced items are developed to assess what students know and can do across a range of mathematics and science topics. In addition, the items are designed and scored in such a way that students’ incorrect answers also provide valuable information about what misconceptions or misunderstandings students have.

The Tool’s contextual information includes student performance data and commentary on the items and analyses of how assessment topics relate to the most recent U.S. national learning standards documents, including the National Council of Mathematics Teachers (NCTM) Principles and Standards for School Mathematics and the National Research Council’s A Framework for K-12 Science Education and the corresponding Next Generation Science Standards. See the User Guide for more information.

Published items from international, national, and state assessments and research on student learning in mathematics and science are both available to teachers, but they are rarely found together. Assessment items are often released in blocks, and teachers need to look through sets of items to see if there is anything useful for their classes. Additionally, teachers may not have the time or special expertise to analyze how student performance on these assessment items can be used to identify specific types of misconceptions, errors, and misunderstandings that can be addressed as part of instruction.

The AIR Educator Tool was developed to make the resources from TIMSS and TIMSS Advanced assessments—particularly items and item-level score reports—more available, relevant, and useful for U.S. teachers.

The AIR Educator Tool was developed and is maintained by the American Institutes for Research, to connect research to practice and advance our mission to support the use of evidence to improve people’s lives.

The TIMSS and TIMSS Advanced items in this Tool are those that were used in past assessments but are no longer needed for future assessments. They are available for use in the Tool with the permission of the International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement (IEA), which sponsors TIMSS and other comparative studies of education. Users can find additional information about TIMSS and TIMSS Advanced on the IEA website and through the TIMSS & PIRLS International Study Center at Boston College, which directs the assessments.