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Utah eighth-graders perform better in science than students in all but five countries, a first-ever international study shows.

In math, Utah eighth-graders outperformed all but 10 countries and provinces, according to the new 2011 NAEP-TIMSS Linking Study.

"We're very pleased," said Mark Peterson, spokesman for the Utah Office of Education. "It is now a global marketplace. Utah kids are not just competing against Utah kids or just American kids. They are competing against Canadian, Irish, Japanese and Chinese kids. Jobs will go where they can find the workforce behind them."

The National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) project of the U.S. Department of Education has long provided the benchmark for comparing student performance among U.S. states.

Students in other countries, however, are assessed in fourth and eighth grades according to the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) program.

This new study links the two, making NAEP results comparable to TIMSS results for eighth-grade students in 38 countries and nine subnational entities, such as Canadian provinces.

The international study is based on testing of students in 2011. The 2012 NAEP results for the United States are due out next week.

According to the new linking study, Utah eighth graders scored 547 in science, which is just three points shy of the benchmark for "high" performance.

The only nations scoring higher were Singapore, Chinese Taipei, Republic of Korea, Japan and Finland.

Utah students' scores were statistically about the same as Finland's as well as those in Alberta, Canada; Russian Federation; and Slovenia. They were also on par with students in eight states — Alaska, Iowa, Minnesota, New Jersey, Ohio, South Dakota, Wisconsin and Wyoming — and Department of Defense schools.

Utah eighth-graders' scores in math were lower, at 510, but still compared favorably internationally. The average TIMSS score was 500.

The 10 countries and provinces where students performed better on math tests were Republic of Korea; Singapore; Chinese Taipei; Hong Kong; Japan; Russian Federation; Quebec, Canada; Israel, Finland and Ontario, Canada.

Utah students' scores were not statistically lower than the later three as well as Alberta, Canada; Australia; England; Hungary; Lithuania; Slovenia; the United States as a whole; and 24 states and the DoD schools.

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