The National Assessment Governing Board released its 2015 Science scores from the National Assessment of Educational Progress for fourth-, eighth- and 12th-graders. The results were positive overall, with achievement gaps narrowing and scores improving for almost all student groups in fourth and eighth-grade students. Twelfth-grade scores remained stagnant across all groups.
The tests assess students’ ability to identify and use science principles, use scientific inquiry, and use technological design in physical science, life science, and Earth and space science. Student responses are a combination of written (including multiple choice and open-ended questions) and interactive computer and hands-on tasks.
Of great concern, however, are the persistent gaps between students of different races, genders, and education status (English Learners and Special Education students). While these gaps are narrowing, we have to figure out how to provide greater opportunities to all students.
Some states are improving at faster rates than others (only noted if the state had a statistically significant change):
It seems that the gains made in fourth and eighth-grade scores erode by 12th-grade. Some of this may be due to lack of access to engaging classes and curriculum that could draw students into STEM fields.
2015 NAEP Science scores show similar trends as math and reading tests, which emphasizes the question: How do we move the needle for 12th-graders, as well as continue to improve opportunities and achievement for all students?