This paper reports on secondary analysis of TIMSS 2003 data with the aim of
explaining the difference in science achievement of Korean and South African learners.
The question asked by this research, i.e. which factors at various educational levels
influence science achievement in Korea and South Africa respectively, is addressed
from the perspective of school effectiveness. Data from Korea included 5 300
learners from 151 schools, while approximately 9 000 learners from 265 schools were
tested in South Africa. The background data were analysed in conjunction with the
achievement data by means of factor, reliability, correlation and multilevel analysis.
The multilevel analysis revealed that the strongest predictor of science achievement
is attitudes towards science in both countries at learner level while, at classroom/
school level, the strongest predictors are learner background in Korea and safety
in school in South Africa respectively. In addition, factors specifically significant in
Korea included educational resources, out-of-school activities, high expectation,
professional development, and school size, while South Africa showed factors such
as ethnicity and SES-related factors, textbook use, teacher age, teacher qualification,
STS-based teaching, physical resources, and class size.