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Press Release

NSTA Statement on the Science Results of the 2019 National Assessment of Education Progress

ARLINGTON, Va.—May 25, 2021—The National Science Teaching Association (NSTA) issued the following statement regarding the release of the 2019 National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP) Science Results at Grades 4, 8, and 12, which show that since 2015, scores decreased for students at grade 4, and no significant changes occurred in the student scores for 8th and 12th graders. The following statement can be attributed to Dr. Erika Shugart, NSTA Executive Director.

“The 2019 NAEP Science Scores released today are discouraging, but not surprising.

Although scores for students in grades 8 and 12 have increased since 2009, they have remained basically flat since 2015. At the elementary level, which had seen gains in 2009, the news was not good. For years, far too many elementary teachers have told us that science is not a priority in their schools and is perceived as less important than math and English Language Arts. The results from the NAEP survey tell us that 77% of elementary teachers spend less than four hours a week on science. (NSTA recommends that elementary classrooms spend at least 60 minutes on science instruction each day, which includes conducting science investigations.)  

We cannot expect students to learn science if it is not a priority in our elementary schools. Time, space, and resources for science education, especially at the K–5 level, have become even more limited this past year due to constraints brought on by the pandemic.

These results also indicate that greater equity in science education is needed. Eighth-grade students with college-educated parents showed a higher interest in the sciences, and the lowest performing studentsacross all grade levelsposted lower scores in the 2019 NAEP. This is simply not acceptable. We have a great deal of work to do to ensure educational equity in science education for all.

As we have seen so clearly during the COVID-19 crisis, science literacy matters now more than ever. Not every child will grow up to be a scientist, but every child deserves access to a high-quality science education that provides them the skills and knowledge they need to be well-informed citizens. Unfortunately, until we begin the serious work of addressing equity for all students and ensuring that science is a higher priority for many of our nation’s schools, starting at the elementary level, we can anticipate that lackluster NAEP scores will continue for many years to come.”

About NSTA
The National Science Teaching Association (NSTA) is a vibrant community of 40,000 science educators and professionals committed to best practices in teaching science and its impact on student learning. NSTA offers high-quality science resources and continuous learning so that science educators can grow professionally and excel in their careers. For new and experienced teachers alike, the NSTA community offers the opportunity to network with like-minded peers at the national level, connect with mentors and leading researchers, and learn from the best in the field.

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Kate Falk, NSTA
(703) 312-9211

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