U.S. students are not earning high marks in science, according to The Nation’s Report Card: Science 2011, a report from the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) released in May. While a majority (65%) of U.S. eighth graders in 47 states achieved at least a basic level in science, only 2% scored at the advanced level. With only 32% of students scoring at or above proficient levels, Gerry Wheeler, NSTA interim executive director, says the results are “disappointing,” showing little progress has been made since the 2009 NAEP, when 30% demonstrated scientific knowledge beyond the basic level.
The latest NAEP showed little change in performance across gender and income lines. Average scores for boys were about 5% higher than those of girls in 2011, a slight increase compared to 2009. A comparison of scores of students eligible for the National School Lunch Program, an indicator of economic need, and those who are not eligible (137 vs. 164 respectively) shows this gap had changed little since 2009, while private school students continued to outperform those attending public school. Students in all racial/ethnic groups, except Asian/Pacific Islanders, scored higher in 2011 than in 2009.
“While [gaps in] scores between white and black students and between white and Hispanic students narrowed slightly from 2009 to 2011, there is still much more work that needs to be done. We must make greater efforts to ensure equity in science education,” notes Wheeler.
The survey also found students of teachers who reported including hands-on activities most frequently scored higher than those who seldom did hands-on projects in class. View or download the report from the National Center for Education Statistics at http://1.usa.gov/KdpKhp.