An empirical investigation of differences between mathemathics specialist and non-specialist at the high-school level in Cyprus - The data obtained from high-school seniors for the Third International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) for the country of Cyprus appear to be contradictory. Although Cypriot students did not perform well in mathematics in elementary school, middle school, and in the non-advanced sectors of high school, students in advanced mathematics courses in high school managed to perform exceptionally well. In seeking to account for this apparent disparity, the present study examines the differences between mathematics specialists and non-specialists at the high-school level and discusses the implications that these have for teaching practice. It shows how students educated in an environment that might not be optimal for producing high-achieving students in mathematics and science in elementary and middle school (according to the TIMSS) might nonetheless manage to excel in these fields at the end of their schooling. In conclusion, the authors address the implications of their study for similar educational systems in other developing countries.