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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 2019 to approximately 30,400 grade 4 students, 31,400 grade 8 students, and 26,400 grade 12 students. Results for science 2019 are now available and are reported on a national level at all three grades.

2019 Science Results

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 NAEP Basic, NAEP Proficient, and NAEP Advanced achievement. The science assessment is administered as a digtally based assessment. 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’ K-12 education and 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 NAEP Results are Reported

Academic achievement in science is presented in two ways on The Nation's Report Card: scale scores and NAEP 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 diverse student groups based on gender, race/ethnicity, etc.
  • NAEP 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 NAEP achievement levels (e.g., NAEP Basic, NAEP Proficient, and NAEP Advanced) that are defined in the assessment framework. Students performing at or above the NAEP 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 NAEP Basic, NAEP Proficient, and NAEP 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 July 2021 (AA)