Adult and Community Learning Services (ACLS)
|For Immediate Release|
|Thursday, October 27, 2016|
|Contact:||Jacqueline Reis 781-338-3115|
Massachusetts Students Show Strong Performance on 2015 NAEP Science Exam
MALDEN - The Baker-Polito Administration announced today that Massachusetts fourth and eighth graders tied for second place nationally in science performance on the 2015 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) exam.
Forty-seven percent of Massachusetts fourth graders scored Proficient or above on the NAEP science test last year, and 44 percent of Massachusetts eighth grade students scored Proficient or above. Massachusetts students' average scores made the Commonwealth one of the top states in the country.
"I am proud that once again, our Massachusetts students have proven to be among the top in the nation," said Governor Charlie Baker. "The strength our students are showing in science will continue to be a critical part of growing a strong Massachusetts economy and workforce."
"I'm thrilled that Massachusetts students continue to make significant strides in closing achievement gaps while remaining among the national leaders in science," said Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito. "We continue to look for ways to improve STEM instruction in our schools to ensure that all students have the opportunity to excel in these critical subjects."
"It's clear that while our NAEP results continue to be strong relative to other states, the latest round of both NAEP and MCAS scores show that we have room to improve in science," said Elementary and Secondary Education Commissioner Mitchell Chester. "I am optimistic that the new practices and standards we are helping schools implement will engage students in science, technology, engineering and math opportunities."
Fourth grade NAEP science tests were last given in 2009, when the average scaled score for Massachusetts was 160. In 2015, Massachusetts fourth graders had an average scaled score of 161, which was not significantly different but was higher than the national average of 153.
Eighth grade results were similar. The eighth grade NAEP science test was last given in 2011, when Massachusetts students had an average scaled score of 161, and in 2015, they had an average scaled score of 162. Like the fourth grade result, this was not significantly different but was higher than the national average of 153.
Although Massachusetts results were roughly flat compared to prior years, there was substantial improvement in one subgroup: Hispanic fourth graders, who saw their average scaled score rise eight points.
The NAEP scores were similar to the recently announced 2016 Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System (MCAS) science and technology/engineering scores, which saw 47 percent of fifth graders score Proficient or above and 41 percent of eighth graders do the same. (Massachusetts gives MCAS science and technology/engineering tests in grades 5 and 8 and in high school.)
The Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education adopted new science and technology/engineering learning standards in January, and ESE is helping districts transition to the new standards. The new learning goals, like the state's previous science standards, are unique to Massachusetts. While not tied to NAEP, the new Massachusetts standards include practices that could help engage students more deeply in the subjects of science and technology/engineering.
Additional NAEP science results for Massachusetts include:
- 47 percent of all Massachusetts fourth graders scored Proficient or above, similar to 2009 (45 percent) and higher than the national average of 37 percent.
- In 2015, Asian/Pacific Islander students scored 174, white students scored 169, black students scored 140, and Hispanic students scored 140, which was significantly higher than Hispanic students scored in 2009 (132).
- 63 percent of Asian/Pacific Islander students scored Proficient or above, as did 56 percent of white students, 21 percent of black students and 20 percent of Hispanics.
- Male students scored higher than female students in 2015 (163 to 160).
- The performance of students eligible for free or reduced-price lunch (145), students with disabilities (144) and English language learners (124) did not change significantly between 2009 and 2015.
- 44 percent of all Massachusetts eighth graders scored Proficient or above, the same as 2011 (44 percent) and higher than the national average of 33 percent.
- In 2015, Asian/Pacific Islander students scored 174, white students scored 170, Hispanic students scored 136 and black students scored 134.
- 62 percent of Asian/Pacific Islander students scored Proficient or above, as did 53 percent of white students, 16 percent of Hispanic students and 13 percent of black students.
- Male students scored higher than female students in 2015 (164 to 160).
- The performance of students eligible for free or reduced-price lunch (145), students with disabilities (138) and English language learners (109) did not change significantly between 2009 and 2015.
The science content for NAEP is defined by a series of statements that describe key facts, concepts, principles, laws and theories in physical science, life science and Earth and space sciences. A second aspect of the science framework NAEP uses is defined by four science practices that students should know about and be able to perform: identifying science principles, using science principles, using scientific inquiry and using technological design.
Science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education has long been a priority in Massachusetts. Under the Baker-Polito Administration, the Governor's Advisory Council on STEM is focusing its work on four areas: expanding work-based learning opportunities in STEM fields, developing and implementing early college career pathways, broadening access to high-quality computer science and engineering education, and strengthening and aligning the work of regional STEM networks.
The National Assessment of Educational Progress, also known as "The Nation's Report Card," is the only nationally representative and continuing assessment of what America's students know and can do in core subjects. The exam assesses representative samples of students in all 50 states and reports state-level results at grades 4 and 8. In 2015, 4,500 students were randomly selected to take a NAEP exam in science. Results in reading and math were reported previously.
Additional information on NAEP is available at NAEP Report Cards.