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Chapter 8. State Indicators

Elementary and Secondary Education

Eighth Grade Science Proficiency


Students reaching proficiency in eighth grade science: 2005 (Percent)
1st quartile
(43% – 35%)
2nd quartile
(34% – 31%)
3rd quartile
(29% – 23%)
4th quartile
(22% – 14%)
No Data
Colorado Connecticut Arkansas‡ Alabama‡ Alaska‡
Idaho‡ Kentucky‡ Delaware‡ Arizona District of Columbia
Massachusetts Maine‡ Georgia California Iowa
Michigan Missouri Illinois Florida Kansas‡
Minnesota New Jersey Indiana Hawaii‡ Nebraska‡
Montana‡ Oregon Maryland Louisiana‡ New York
New Hampshire‡ Utah Oklahoma‡ Mississippi‡ Pennsylvania
North Dakota‡ Washington Rhode Island‡ Nevada‡
Ohio South Carolina‡ New Mexico‡
South Dakota‡ Tennessee North Carolina
Vermont‡ Texas
Virginia West Virginia‡
‡ EPSCoR state

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


  • Of the 36 states that participated in both the 2000 and 2005 science assessments for public school eighth graders, 4 states showed significant increases in science proficiency in 2005.
  • Unlike math proficiency, science proficiency did not increase between 2000 and 2005.
  • The states with the highest percentages of eighth graders who were proficient in science are concentrated in the northern United States. A number of EPSCoR states were included in this group.
  • The nationwide percentage of students who performed at or above the proficient level in science was identical for fourth and eighth graders in 2005.


This indicator represents the proportion of a state's eighth 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 performance levels that indicate greater ("advanced") and lesser ("basic") accomplishment. For the eighth grade, the proficient level (scores 170–207) 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 (208–300) signifies superior performance. The basic level (143–169) 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 143,400 eighth grade students in 6,400 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 eighth graders that was large enough for reporting state-level results.

Data Table

Table 8-8
Students reaching proficiency in eighth grade science, by state: 2000 and 2005
State 2000 2005
United States 29 27
Alabama 23 19
Alaska NA NA
Arizona 23 20
Arkansas 22 23
California 14 * 18
Colorado NA 35
Connecticut 35 33
Delaware NA 29
District of Columbia NA NA
Florida NA 21
Georgia 23 25
Hawaii 14 15
Idaho 37 36
Illinois 29 27
Indiana 33 29
Iowa NA NA
Kansas NA NA
Kentucky 28 31
Louisiana 18 19
Maine 35 34
Maryland 27 26
Massachusetts 39 41
Michigan 35 35
Minnesota 41 39
Mississippi 15 14
Missouri 33 33
Montana 44 42
Nebraska 38 NA
Nevada 22 19
New Hampshire NA 41
New Jersey NA 33
New Mexico 20 18
New York 28 NA
North Carolina 25 22
North Dakota 38 * 43
Ohio 39 35
Oklahoma 25 25
Oregon 34 32
Pennsylvania NA NA
Rhode Island 27 26
South Carolina 20 23
South Dakota NA 41
Tennessee 24 25
Texas 23 23
Utah 34 33
Vermont 39 41
Virginia 29 * 35
Washington NA 33
West Virginia 24 23
Wisconsin NA 39
Wyoming 34 * 37
Puerto Rico NA NA

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

NOTES: National average for United States is reported value in National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) reports. NAEP grade 8 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