U.S. Students Improve in Science–but Just Barely

From Scientific American:

“I am encouraged that we see some progress in grades four and eight­—it’s not dramatic but it is significant,” says David Evans, executive director of the National Science Teachers Association, who was not involved in the report. “It’s also encouraging that we see a shrinking of the [racial] achievement gap in some areas,” he says, but adds, “We obviously still have a long way to go.”

The “Nation’s Report Card: 2015 Science” was based on a nationally representative sample of 115,400 fourth-graders, 110,900 eighth-graders and 11,000 twelfth-graders in both public and private schools. Additional data was provided voluntarily by 46 states and the Department of Defense (DOD) school system for fourth and eighth grades. The report assessed students’ knowledge of physical science, life science, and Earth and space sciences on a scale of 0 to 300, and classified the students into three achievement levels: basic, proficient and advanced.

The results showed that the number of both fourth- and eighth-graders scoring at or above “proficient” level rose by four points compared to 2009. In addition, the gap between different racial or ethnic groups narrowed, decreasing by two points between whites and blacks and four points between whites and Hispanics. In terms of gender there was no statistically significant difference between boys and girls at grade four—but by grade twelve male students scored an average of five points higher than girls, a gap that remained unchanged from 2009.

However, twelfth-grade achievement in math and science has stayed stagnant since 2009 and absolute performance across the board remains poor, according to the new report. In 2015 just 22 percent of twelfth-graders scored at the “proficient” level. The situation was slightly better for fourth- and eighth-graders, 38 percent and 34 percent of whom performed at this level, respectively.

At the state level, 18 states’ scores for fourth grade …

Continue Reading