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Science

Question:
How are American students performing in science?

Response:

In 2019, the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) science assessment was administered to representative samples of fourth-, eighth-, and twelfth-grade students across the nation. NAEP science was administered as a digitally based assessment on tablet and as a paper-based assessment in 2019. Students were randomly assigned to take either the digitally based or paper-based assessment and reported results are based on the combined student performance on both versions of the assessment. The assessment measured studentsí science knowledge as well as their ability to engage in scientific inquiry and to conduct scientific investigations in real-world contexts. Students also answered survey questions asking about their opportunities to learn about and engage in science inside and outside of school.

Average Scores

In 2019, the average science score for the nation was lower by 2 points at grade 4 compared to 2015. Average scores at grades 8 and 12 were not significantly different compared to the scores in 2015. At grades 4 and 8, average scores were higher compared to 2009, while the average score at grade 12 was not significantly different.


Average scores in NAEP science, by grade: Various years, 2009–2019

The data in this figure is described in the surrounding text.
The data in this figure is described in the surrounding text.
The data in this figure is described in the surrounding text.

* Significantly different (p < .05) from 2019.


Scores by Percentile

NAEP scores are reported at five selected percentiles to show the progress made by lower-performing (10th and 25th percentiles), middle-performing (50th percentile), and higher-performing (75th and 90th percentiles) students.

Scores are reported on the NAEP science scale at grade 4 that ranges from 0 to 300 (although student performance typically ranges from 103 to 196, representing the 10th and 90th percentiles, respectively). In 2009, the mean of the science scale was set at 150 and the standard deviation at 35. In comparison to 2015, the 2019 science scores were lower for fourth-graders performing at the 10th, 25th, and 50th percentiles. For lower-performing students at the 10th and 25th percentiles, the 2019 scores were lower by 5 points and 4 points, respectively, compared to 2015. In 2019, the score for middle-performing students at the 50th percentile was 2 points lower in comparison to 2015. In comparison to 2009, science scores in 2019 were higher for higher-performing students at the 75th and 90th percentiles by 2 points and 3 points, respectively. There were no significant changes in the scores for lower- and middle-performing students in 2019 compared to 2009.

Scores are reported on the NAEP science scale at grade 8 that ranges from 0 to 300 (although student performance typically ranges from 103 to 196, representing the 10th and 90th percentiles, respectively). In 2009, the mean of the science scale was set at 150 and the standard deviation at 35. In 2019, scores were lower by 2 points for the lowest-performing students at the 10th percentile compared to 2015. In comparison to 2009, scores were higher at all five selected percentiles in 2019.

Scores are reported on the NAEP science scale at grade 12 that ranges from 0 to 300 (although student performance typically ranges from 100 to 197, representing the 10th and 90th percentiles, respectively). In 2009, the mean of the science scale was set at 150 and the standard deviation at 35. In 2019, the science score for twelfth-graders at each of the five selected percentiles was not significantly different compared to 2015. In comparison to 2009, the score in 2019 was 4 points lower for the lowest-performing twelfth-graders at the 10th percentile, while there were no significant changes in the scores for students at the 25th, 50th, 75th, and 90th percentiles.

SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics. (2021). 2019 NAEP Science Assessment: Highlighted Results at Grades 4, 8, and 12 for the Nation (NCES 2021-045), Home, Report Card Highlights, and National Average Scores.

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