The next time you’re on the hunt for Massachusetts’ smartest students, don’t head to local colleges and universities—look younger. When it comes to math and science, the state’s eighth-graders are among the smartest in the world, and the brightest nationally, according to the 2011 Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS).

On an international level, only Singapore outscored Massachusetts students in the science part of the study. The students then tied fifth overall in math, trailing behind four of 63 overall counties: South Korea, Singapore, Chinese Taipei, Hong Kong and Japan.

Although eight states participated in the TIMSS, Massachusetts’ 2,000 exam-taking eight-graders outperformed every single one of them. Those states included Minnesota, North Carolina, Indiana, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, California and Alabama.

As State Education Commissioner Edward Chester told WBZ NewsRadio 1030, “This assessment tells us that not only are we strong compared to our U.S. counterparts, but we are very strong in terms of the education we provide relative to the rest of the world.”

Chester also admitted more needs to be done, saying these results shouldn’t make us complacent, because “we still have students who aren’t succeeding.”

State officials have been trying to help build high schoolers’ progress. They recently made passing an MCAS science exam a graduation requirement, starting with the class of 2010. And that shift has filtered down to lower grade levels, forcing middle school administration to reconsider their curriculum.

Just keep in mind, the next time you’re worrying about which up-and-coming college student will swoop into your company and threaten your position, perhaps you should focus your fears on those even younger.