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The National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) science assessment is designed to measure students’ knowledge and abilities in the areas of Earth and space science, physical science, and life science. The most recent science assessment was given in 2015 to approximately 115,400 students in grade 4, 110,900 students in grade 8, and 11,000 students in grade 12. Results for science 2015 are now available and are reported on a national level at all three grades and on the state level at grades 4 and 8.

2015 Science

Assessment Content

The science framework specifics that students’ science knowledge and skills should be measured in three broad areas: physical science, life science, and Earth and space sciences. The framework identifies four science practices that should be assessed to determine how students use their knowledge of science, including how they identify science principles, use science principles, use scientific inquiry, and use technological design. The framework also outlines what science knowledge and skills students should have to reach Basic, Proficient, and Advanced achievement. Survey questionnaires, administered to students, teachers, and school administrators who participate in a science assessment, are used to collect and report contextual information about students’ learning experience in and out of the classroom.

How is Your State or District Performing?

See snapshots of individual state performance in 2015 and individual district performance in 2009:

How Science Results are Reported

Student performance on the NAEP science assessment is presented in two ways: scale scores and achievement levels.

  • Scale scores represent the average performance of students who took the science assessment. Scores are aggregated and reported for the nation, states, and districts as well as and groups of students based on gender, race/ethnicity, etc.
  • Achievement levels are performance standards that describe what students should know and be able to do. Results are reported as percentages of students performing at or above three achievement levels (e.g., Basic, Proficient, and Advanced) that are defined in the assessment framework. Students performing at or above the Proficient level on NAEP assessments demonstrate solid academic performance and competency over challenging subject matter. Note that the NAEP Proficient achievement level does not represent grade level proficiency as determined by other assessment standards (e.g., state or district assessments).

Item maps illustrate how specific science knowledge and skills correspond to different NAEP achievement levels. Item maps answer the question, “What assessment questions were likely to be answered correctly by students performing at the Basic, Proficient, and Advanced achievement levels?”

How To Interpret Science Results

Find out how to interpret the results of the science assessment, including the potential effects of exclusion on assessment results.

Learn More

Last updated 15 November 2018 (AA)