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Chapter 8. State Indicators

Elementary and Secondary Education

Fourth Grade Science Proficiency


Students reaching proficiency in fourth grade science: 2005 (Percent)
1st quartile
(40% – 35%)
2nd quartile
(33% – 27%)
3rd quartile
(26% – 25%)
4th quartile
(24% – 12%)
No Data
Kentucky‡ Colorado Florida Alabama‡ Alaska‡
Maine‡ Connecticut Georgia Arizona District of Columbia
Massachusetts Delaware‡ North Carolina Arkansas‡ Iowa
Missouri Idaho‡ Oklahoma‡ California Kansas‡
Montana‡ Illinois Oregon Hawaii‡ Nebraska‡
New Hampshire‡ Indiana South Carolina‡ Louisiana‡ New York
North Dakota‡ Maryland Tennessee Mississippi‡ Pennsylvania
Ohio Michigan Texas Nevada‡
South Dakota‡ Minnesota New Mexico‡
Vermont‡ New Jersey Rhode Island‡
Virginia Utah West Virginia‡
Wisconsin Washington
‡ EPSCoR state

SOURCE: National Center for Education Statistics, National Assessment of Educational Progress. See Data Table.


  • In 2005, 27% of fourth grade public school students nationwide performed at or above the proficient level in science, which is not significantly different from 26% in 2000.
  • Of the 36 states that participated in both the 2000 and 2005 science assessments, only 4 states showed increases that were statistically significant.
  • The states with the highest percentage of fourth graders who demonstrated science proficiency are located in the northern United States. A number of EPSCoR states were included in this group.
  • Substantial differences in science proficiency exist between racial/ethnic groups of fourth graders. The gender gap is much smaller and remained unchanged between 2000 and 2005.


This indicator represents the proportion of a state's fourth grade students in public schools that has met or exceeded the proficiency standard in science.

The National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) provides a federally authorized measure of student performance in science. The National Assessment Governing Board sets performance standards that provide a context for interpreting NAEP results. The standards define "proficiency" as well as performance levels that indicate greater ("advanced") and lesser ("basic") accomplishment. For the fourth grade, the proficient level (scores 170–204) represents solid academic performance and demonstrates competency over challenging subject-matter knowledge, its application to real-world situations, and mastery of appropriate analytical skills. The advanced level (205–300) signifies superior performance. The basic level (138–169) denotes partial mastery of knowledge and skills that are prerequisite for proficient work. A National Academy of Sciences panel evaluated the process used to establish the standards for the science assessment and urged that they be considered developmental and interpreted with caution.

Approximately 147,700 fourth grade students in 8,500 schools participated in the 2005 NAEP science assessment. A designation of NA (not available) indicates that the state either did not participate in the assessment or did not have a representative sample of fourth graders that was large enough for reporting state-level results.

Data Table

Table 8-4
Students reaching proficiency in fourth grade science, by state: 2000 and 2005
State 2000 2005
United States 26 27
Alabama 22 21
Alaska NA NA
Arizona 22 18
Arkansas 23 24
California 13 * 17
Colorado NA 32
Connecticut 35 33
Delaware NA 27
District of Columbia NA NA
Florida NA 26
Georgia 23 25
Hawaii 16 19
Idaho 29 29
Illinois 31 27
Indiana 32 27
Iowa 36 NA
Kansas NA NA
Kentucky 28 * 36
Louisiana 18 20
Maine 37 36
Maryland 24 27
Massachusetts 42 38
Michigan 32 30
Minnesota 34 33
Mississippi 13 12
Missouri 34 36
Montana 36 37
Nebraska 26 NA
Nevada 19 17
New Hampshire NA 37
New Jersey NA 32
New Mexico 17 18
New York 24 NA
North Carolina 23 25
North Dakota 36 36
Ohio 31 35
Oklahoma 26 25
Oregon 27 26
Pennsylvania NA NA
Rhode Island 25 23
South Carolina 20 * 25
South Dakota NA 35
Tennessee 24 26
Texas 23 25
Utah 31 33
Vermont 38 38
Virginia 32 * 40
Washington NA 28
West Virginia 24 24
Wisconsin NA 35
Wyoming 31 32
Puerto Rico NA NA

*significantly different from 2005 when only one jurisdiction or the nation is being examined; NA = not available

NOTE: National average for United States is reported value in National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) reports. NAEP grade 4 science scores for public schools only.

SOURCE: National Center for Education Statistics, NAEP (various years).

Science and Engineering Indicators 2010

Source Data

Science and Engineering Indicators 2010   Arlington, VA (NSB 10-01) | January 2010