Massachusetts 4th & 8th Graders Show Strong Performance on 2009 NAEP Science Exams
Scores continue the Commonwealth's nation-leading student achievement record
"These results continue our record of nation-leading student achievement here in Massachusetts," said Governor Patrick. "Our future success as a Commonwealth is directly tied to our ability to provide our students with a quality education, and today's results confirm that high expectations and hard work are paying off."
"The NAEP results are encouraging, especially as we continue to promote STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) education to better prepare our young students for the innovative industries that call Massachusetts home," said Lieutenant Governor Timothy Murray, who also chairs the STEM Advisory Council. "We are fully confident that our students and teachers will continue to improving and leading the nation in educational achievement."
On the 2009 NAEP Science exam, Massachusetts 4th graders had an average scaled score of 160, above the national average of 149. At grade 8, Massachusetts students also averaged 160, again above the national average of 149. While state-level NAEP results in Science have been reported previously (1996, 2000, 2005), the introduction of a new NAEP Science curriculum framework precludes the comparison of 2009 science results to prior years. In 2007, Massachusetts 4th graders ranked second worldwide in science achievement while the state's 8th graders tied for first worldwide in science on the Trends in Mathematics and Science Survey exams.
"These latest NAEP Science results are encouraging and indicative of the hard work and high achievement that Massachusetts students are known for," said Education Commissioner Mitchell Chester. "However, as we look deeper at the results, we are reminded that not all students are performing at a high level in science. We need to provide all of our students with a high quality science program."
Through the state's Race to the Top grant, the Department will be developing sample science and technology/engineering curricula and performance assessments aligned to the state standards to provide educators with additional materials and guidelines to help improve instruction. These resources will be available to every school district to encourage additional science curriculum development and implementation. The Department has also sponsored Professional Development Institutes and Mathematics and Science Partnership courses for classroom teachers that are content-based science and technology/engineering professional development to improve their understanding of the subjects they teach and how they can best help students learn complex subject matter. More recently, the Department has sponsored professional development courses that relate science and literacy.
"A solid grounding in science and technology/engineering is as core to a 21st century education as is literacy and mathematics," Chester said. "Economic opportunity and civic engagement are inextricably linked to competence in science and technology."
NAEP, 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. NAEP assesses representative samples of students in all 50 states and reports state-level results at grades 4 and 8. In Massachusetts, roughly 7,400 students were randomly selected to take a NAEP exam in reading, mathematics, or science. 2009 NAEP results in mathematics and reading were previously released.
Additional results for Massachusetts students included:
Grade 4 Science:
- The percent of students in Massachusetts who scored Proficient or above (45 percent) was greater than the national public school average (32 percent).
- White students (average scaled score of 169) outscored African American/Black students (138) and Hispanic students (132), and scored similarly to Asian students (167).
- 56 percent of Massachusetts white students scored Proficient or above, compared to 17 percent of African American/Black students, 12 percent of Hispanic students, and 53 percent of Asian students.
- The average scaled score of male students (162) and female students (159) was not statistically different. 47 percent of male students scored Proficient or higher, compared to 43 percent of female students.
- 19 percent of students with disabilities scored Proficient or higher, compared to 50 percent of non-disabled students.
- 7 percent of English language learners (ELL) scored Proficient or higher, compared to 48 percent of non-ELL students.
Grade 8 Science:
- The percent of students in Massachusetts who scored Proficient or above (41 percent) was greater than the national public school average (29 percent).
- White students (average scaled score of 167) outscored African American/Black students (132) and Hispanic students (131), and scored similarly to Asian students (168).
- 48 percent of Massachusetts white students scored Proficient or above, compared to 13 percent of African American/Black students, 14 percent of Hispanic students, and 49 percent of Asian students.
- The average scaled score of male students (162) and female students (158) was not statistically different. The percent of male students scoring Proficient or higher (43 percent) was higher than the percent of female students (38 percent).
- 20 percent of students with disabilities scored Proficient or higher, compared to 45 percent of non-disabled students.
- 3 percent of English language learners (ELL) scored Proficient or higher, compared to 42 percent of non-ELL students..
The 2009 NAEP Science assessment was based on a new curriculum framework that reflected key developments in science, curriculum standards, assessments, and research. The NAEP Science scale ranges from 0 to 300. The NAEP framework is comprised of three board content areas: (1) Physical science; (2) Life science; and (3) Earth and space sciences.
In Massachusetts, the Department is currently revising its Science and Technology/Engineering Curriculum Framework to review, update and improve the frameworks. The Board of Elementary and Secondary Education last adopted Pre-K to high school Science and Technology/Engineering standards in 2001, and subsequently adopted a minor revision of the high school standards in 2006.
The Governor announced today's results at the Jireh Swift Elementary School in New Bedford where students have made significant progress on the state's Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System (MCAS) exams, especially in science. Last fall, the Swift was named one of 187 Commendation Schools statewide cited for its progress in closing proficiency gaps and increasing student achievement. On the Grade 5 Science MCAS test in 2010, 37 percent of students at the Swift reached proficiency, up from 21 percent in 2009. Students also demonstrated success in English with gains in grades 3 and 5 as well as increases in Math in grades 4 and 5.
"We are honored to have Governor Patrick visit with the Swift School community to celebrate their success," said Scott W. Lang Mayor of City of New Bedford. "Over the past four years the Governor has spent considerable time in New Bedford helping to advance educational attainment and opportunity for all of our children, an effort we greatly appreciate."
"We are really heartened by the results announced by Governor Patrick today," said Dr. Mary Louise Francis Superintendant of New Bedford Public Schools. "The principal, teachers and students work very hard and being named a Commendation School is a direct result of their hard work."