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NAEP 1996 Science State Reports

Revised December 1997   Errata Notice

Authors: Christine Y. O'Sullivan, Laura Jerry, Nada Ballator, and Fiona Herr (Educational Testing Service), et al.

U.S. map N.E. U.S. map  WA  MT  ND  WY  UT  CO  NE  CA  AZ  NM  TX  MN  IA  MO  AR  LA  MS  TN  KY  IN  MI  AL  GA  SC  FL  NC  WV  HI  GU  DDESS Domestic  DoDDS International  OR  NV  AK  WI  MI  ME  VA

All reports are in PDF format:
Alabama 1,229K | Alaska 1,232K | Arizona 1,229K | Arkansas 1,246K | California 1,246K | Colorado 1,233K | Connecticut 1,236K | Delaware 1,195K | District of Columbia 1,193K | Florida 1,194K | Georgia 1,210K | Hawaii 1,192K | Indiana 1,199K | Iowa 1,215K | Kentucky 1,212K | Louisiana 1,210K | Maine 1,203K | Maryland 1,197K | Massachusetts 1,220K | Michigan 1,216K | Minnesota 1,218K | Mississippi 1,194K | Missouri 1,215K | Montana 1,218K | Nebraska 1,218K | Nevada 655K | New Hampshire 656K | New Mexico 1,211K | New York 1,214K | North Carolina 1,192K | North Dakota 1,221K | Oregon 1,200K | Rhode Island 1,201K | South Carolina 1,190K | Tennessee 1,195K | Texas 1,211K | Utah 1,197K | Vermont 1,218K | Virginia 1,195K | Washington 1,215K | West Virginia 1,199K | Wisconsin 1,203K | Wyoming 1,200K | DDESS Domestic | DoDDS International | Guam 1,185K


The National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) is the only nationally representative and continuing assessment of what students in the United States know and can do in various academic subjects. NAEP is authorized by Congress and directed by the National Center for Education Statistics of the U.S. Department of Education. The National Assessment Governing Board (NAGB), an independent body, provides policy guidance for NAEP.

Since its inception in 1969, NAEP's mission has been to collect, analyze, and produce valid and reliable information about the academic performance of students in the United States in various learning areas. In 1990, the mission of NAEP was expanded to provide state-by-state results on academic achievement. Participation in the state-by-state NAEP is usually voluntary (a few state legislatures have mandated participation) and has grown from 40 states and territories in 1990 to 48 in 1996. In 1996, the NAEP state assessment in science was administered at grade 8 only (although the Department of Defense schools arranged to have their students assessed at grade 4 as well).

Reported here are the results for 46 jurisdictions assessed at grade 8, as well as the grade 4 results for domestic and overseas schools of the Department of Defense. Results are reported for a jurisdiction's students in its public schools or in its nonpublic schools only if that category of school met the minimum participation rate guidelines set for it. Since 1996 is the first year for an assessment constructed on the new framework and also the first time science has been assessed at the state level, there are no results to report from previous science assessments.

The NAEP 1996 science assessment was developed using a new framework designed to reflect current practices in science teaching. It called for the use of multiple-choice questions and constructed-response questions that required both short and extended responses. The constructed-response questions served as indicators of students' ability to know and integrate facts and scientific concepts, the ability to reason, and the ability to communicate scientific information. The framework was structured according to a matrix that consisted of the three traditional fields of science (earth, physical, and life) crossed with three processes of knowing and doing science (conceptual understanding, scientific investigation, and practical reasoning). A central category encompassing the nature of science and the nature of technology was woven throughout the assessment, as was a themes category representing major ideas or key concepts that transcend scientific disciplines.

Each student in the science assessment received a booklet containing a set of general background questions, a set of subject-specific background questions, and three sets (termed "blocks") of cognitive questions. The cognitive questions consisted of multiple-choice and constructed-response questions. Short constructed-response questions required students to provide answers in a few words or a sentence or two (e.g., briefly stating how nutrients move from the digestive system to the tissues). Extended constructed-response questions generally required a paragraph or more (e.g., outlining an experiment to test the effect of increasing the amount of available food on the rate of population increase for hydra). Some constructed-response questions also required diagrams, graphs, or calculations. Short and extended constructed-response questions constituted nearly 80 percent of the total student response time in the NAEP 1996 assessment in science. The assessment also included hands-on tasks that enabled students to demonstrate directly their knowledge and skills related to scientific investigation.

Students' science performance is summarized on the NAEP science scales, which range from 0 to 300 at each grade. While the scale score ranges are identical for grades 4, 8, and 12, the scales were derived independently at each grade. Scale scores on the grade 8 scale cannot imply anything about performance at grade 12 in the assessment. (Grades 4, 8, and 12 were assessed nationally, while the state assessment was administered only at grade 8.)

The report for each participating state describes science performance for representative samples of eighth graders in public and/or nonpublic schools in the state and compares the results for various groups of students within these populations -- for example, those who have certain demographic characteristics or who responded to a specific background question in a particular way. The reports examine the results for individual demographic groups and for individual background questions; they do not include an analysis of the relationships among the student groups and their responses to the background questions. Results are reported for groups only when they contain sufficient numbers of students from a determined number of schools. However, the data for all students assessed in a state, regardless of whether their group was reported separately, are included in computing overall results.


List of NCES Publication Numbers for NAEP 1996 Science State Reports

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Last updated 21 March 2001 (PO'R)

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