PII: S0191-491X(05)80097-5 Studies in Educational Evaluation. Vol. 16, pp. 421-441, 1990 0191--491X/90 $0.00 + .50 Printed in Great Britain. All rights reserved. ~) 1990 Pergamon Press plc THE SISS IN THE NETHERLANDS: DESCRIPTIVES AND GENDER DIFFERENCES Annita Alting and Willem J. Pelgrum University of Twente, Department of Education, Enschede, The Netherlands Introduct ion The Netherlands participated in one part of the SISS, i.e. population 2, that is: s tudents in the third grade (SISS grade 9) of lower secondary education. This populat ion is of part icular interest due to the diversity of school types and their associated science curricula and the fact that grade 9 still contains most of the students of an age cohort. The SISS offered a good opportuni ty to s tudy the content of the science curr icu lum and student performance jus t before the transit ion to upper secondary grades takes place. Such an assessment is important as descriptive information in itself, because this information is not produced by other sources. In this article we first describe the structure of the Dutch school system in general and of lower secondary educat ion in more detail. This descript ion is combined with descriptive results from the SISS. Besides the descriptive aspect the SISS data are of relevance for investigating a number of issues that are related to educational policy. One of these issues is the existence of large gender di f ferences in the Netherlands with respect to the qualification of girls for part icular kinds of jobs that traditionally belong to the realm of men. Many girls in secondary educat ion choose for their final examinat ion a selection of subjects that d isqual i f ies them for a number of fu r ther studies, like medicine, mathematics, physics, chemistry and technology. This apparent tendency of girls not to take part in science courses in upper secondary education can 421 422 A.