Study looks at Czech teaching methods

Czech students have always ranked quite high in comparison to their international counterparts, especially in math and science testing. The Department of Education in the United States has conducted a study regarding different teaching methods in countries where students score high in mathematics testing, the Czech Republic was one of them.

A study conducted by the United States department of education shows that Czech students performed well in mathematics and science testing. The 'Trends International Mathematics and Science Study', or TIMSS, ranked the Czech Republic 15th overall in mathematics and 8th overall in science. The study showed that Czech 8th grade students performed even better, ranking 6th in mathematics and 2nd in the sciences.

The study assessed the mathematics and science performance of American students in comparison to their peers in other countries at three different grade levels in 1995 and at one level in 1999. The study concluded that along with the Czech Republic, a number of countries placed higher then the United States.

In order to evaluate how teaching methods differed in other countries the United States department of Education analyzed over 600 videotaped lessons of eighth-grade math teachers in seven countries, one of which was the Czech Republic. The study found that U.S. teachers needed to spend more time on the concepts of math and less time on the basic mechanics of solving math problems. Although the report showed that there is no single method of teaching mathematics among high-achieving countries, the teaching of mathematics in the United States differs greatly from the ways mathematics is taught in high performance countries. The report highlighted the fact the review of previously taught lessons plays a significant role in mathematics lessons in the Czech Republic.

Historically, Czech students have scored well in international testing, especially in more the more technical subjects such as mathematics and physics. However, the education system in the Czech Republic has been criticized for placing too much importance on memorization and not enough emphasis on a liberal arts education.

Until 1990 the Czech education system was characterized by a highly centralized administration which emphasized a technical education. A major difference from the education system during communism was that the distribution of students across different types and levels of education was carried-out through central planners who needed to meet production quotas within specific economic sectors. Today, students in the Czech Republic have a choice from where and what they want to study, however because of a continuing lack of funding, space in the countries many universities is limited. But, the increasing role of the private sector in education is meeting part of that demand.