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For Immediate Release
Tuesday, November 20, 2001
Contact:Heidi B. Perlman 781-338-3106 or Jonathan Palumbo 781-338-3105

Fourth graders top nation, eighth graders tie for second on NAEP exam

MALDEN - Massachusetts' fourth graders outscored their peers nationwide and eighth graders tied with several other states for second place on the 2000 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) exam in science.

Students tested in both grades also beat the national average scaled score. For fourth graders, the average score in Massachusetts was 162, well above the national average of 148. Eighth graders here scored an average of 161, higher than the national average of 149.

"I am thrilled to see so many of our elementary and secondary school students making Massachusetts synonymous with success in science," said Governor Jane Swift. "The hard work and innovation happening in the Commonwealth's classrooms is paying off as we can see with these top-notch results. I am proud of all of our students and teachers."

Education Commissioner David P. Driscoll credited the hard work of parents, administrators, teachers and students, as well as the state's PALMS NSF initiative, which has promoted a more hands-on approach to science. In the future, he said, he is anticipating even more success stemming from the state's new science frameworks which call for students to begin learning the basics of engineering at the elementary level.

"Massachusetts' students are demonstrating remarkable improvement once again, this time in science," he said. "These results show that our teachers are clearly not only capturing our student's attention, but their imaginations and desire to learn."

The NAEP exam, known as "the Nation's Report Card," is the only national, continuing assessment of what American students know and can do in various subject areas. Since 1969 students nationwide have been tested periodically in reading, math, science, writing, U.S. history, civics, geography and the arts.

The NAEP 2000 math results were reported in August.

A random sampling of schools are selected in states that choose to participate, and from those schools a random sampling of students are tested. In 2000, 45 states participated in the science assessment.

For the first time, results this year were reported back in two categories: students in which testing accommodations were not permitted, and results for students in which testing accommodations were permitted. Accommodations are changes in the testing environment made to allow special needs students to be tested alongside their peers. Results reported here are based on students tested with no accommodations, and are therefore comparable to results from previous years.

Nearly 2,500 students at more than 100 schools in Massachusetts were tested last year in each grade.

Fourth Grade

Just 19 percent of students tested in this state scored below the basic level on the exam. A total of 81 percent scored at or above basic, 43 percent scored at or above proficient and 6 percent scored in the top, advanced category.

In all, 46 percent of the state's fourth grade boys and 38 percent of the state's fourth grade girls scored at or above proficient. Both genders outscored their peers nationwide. The state's girls also scored at or above the proficient level at a higher rate than the nation's boys.

Among ethnic groups, white students had an average scale score of 169, 10 points above the national scaled score of 159. A total of 50 percent of white students tested in Massachusetts scored at or above proficient, much higher than the national average of 37 percent.

Among black students, the average scaled score was 137 in Massachusetts and 124 nationally. Hispanic students scored an average of 130 here and 127 nationally.

Eighth Grade

Montana, with an average scaled score of 165, was the only state that bested Massachusetts' eighth graders, who scored 161. The state's students also scored comparably to several other states including Idaho, Nebraska, Minnesota, North Dakota, Ohio, Vermont and Maine.

In all, 26 percent of the state's eighth graders tested scored below the basic category, 74 percent scored at or above the basic level, 42 percent scored at or above proficient and 5 percent scored in the top, advanced category.

Eighth grade boys scored an average of 162, slightly up from the 159 scored in 1996, the last time this test was administered in Massachusetts. Eighth grade girls showed a significant improvement from 1996, scoring 160, up from 154. Both boys and girls outscored their peers nationwide.

The state's white students scored a 168, up from 163 in 1996, and higher than the national average of 160 in 2000. Black students' average scaled score was 134, and Hispanic students scored an average of 128. Both scored higher than the national average in 2000.

The state's results on the NAEP exam can be viewed on the Department of Education's Web site.



Last Updated: November 20, 2001
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