Youth Indicators, 2005: Trends in the Well-Being of American Youth

Indicator 16: Science Proficiency

Figure 16. National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) science scores of 13- and 17-year-olds, by race/ethnicity: Various years, 1973 to 1999

National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) science scores of 13- and 17-year-olds, by race/ethnicity: Various years, 1973 to 1999
1All participants of this age were in school.
NOTE: The NAEP scores range from 0 to 500, but have been evaluated at certain performance levels. Performers at the 150 level know some general scientific facts of the kind that can be learned from everyday experiences. Performers at the 200 level are developing some understanding of simple scientific principles, particularly in the life sciences. Performers at the 250 level can interpret data from simple tables and make inferences about the outcomes of experimental procedures. They exhibit knowledge and understanding of the life sciences, and also demonstrate some knowledge of basic information from the physical sciences. A score of 300 implies the ability to evaluate the appropriateness of the design of an experiment and the skill to apply scientific knowledge in interpreting information from text and graphs. These students also exhibit a growing understanding of principles from the physical sciences. A score of 350 implies the ability to infer relationships and draw conclusions using detailed scientific knowledge from the physical sciences, particularly chemistry. These students also can apply basic principles of genetics and interpret the societal implications of research in this field. Excludes persons not enrolled in school and those who were unable to be tested due to limited proficiency in English or due to a disability. Includes students in public and private schools. The science assessment was not administered in 2004.
SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) 1999 Trends in Academic Progress: Three Decades of Student Performance, 2000.

The average science score of 13-year-olds was higher in 1999 compared to 1973, while there was no difference detected in the average scores of 17-year-olds between 1973 and1999. Large differences between racial/ethnic groups persisted in 1999. Whereas the gap between Hispanics and Whites showed no significant change, the science score gap between Blacks and Whites narrowed for 13-year-olds between 1977 and 1999. In 1999, 13-year-old and 17-year-old males continued to score higher than females. For 13-year-olds, the gap between males and females has not narrowed since the 1970s. For 17-year-olds, the gaps were smaller in the 1990s compared to those in the 1970s and early 1980s.

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