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Chapter 8. State Indicators

Elementary and Secondary Education

Fourth grade science performance


  • In 2009, the nationwide average science score of fourth grade public school students was 149. Average scores for individual states ranged between 133 and 163.
  • Of the 47 states and jurisdictions that participated in the fourth grade science assessment, 24 states had scores that were higher than the national average, 13 were not significantly different, and 10 were lower.
  • Nationally, the gap in science scores between white and black public school fourth grade students was 35 points, and the gap between white and Hispanic public fourth grade students was 32 points.
  • Male fourth grade public school students scored 1 point higher in science than female fourth grade public school students although females scored higher in life science than did males.


This indicator represents each state's average score on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) in science for its fourth grade students in public schools. The national science assessment was updated in 2009 to keep pace with key developments in science. It contains questions covering the content areas of physical, life, and earth and space science. The 2009 assessment is based on a new framework, and these results, therefore, cannot be compared to those from previous science assessments. They provide a current snapshot of what fourth graders can do in science and will provide a basis for comparisons for the future.

Student performance is presented in terms of average scores on a scale from 0 to 300 with a mean of 150 and a standard deviation of 35. An average score designated as NA (not available) indicates that the state either did not participate in the assessment or did not meet the minimum guidelines for reporting.

NAEP allows students with disabilities or limited English-language proficiency to use certain accommodations (e.g., extended time, individual testing, or small group testing). All data presented here represent scores from tests taken with accommodations offered.

Data Table

Table 8-3
Average fourth grade science performance, by state: 2009
(Score out of 300)
State 2009
United States 149
Alabama 143
Alaska NA
Arizona 138
Arkansas 146
California 136
Colorado 155
Connecticut 156
Delaware 153
District of Columbia NA
Florida 151
Georgia 144
Hawaii 140
Idaho 154
Illinois 148
Indiana 153
Iowa 157
Kansas NA
Kentucky 161
Louisiana 141
Maine 160
Maryland 150
Massachusetts 160
Michigan 150
Minnesota 158
Mississippi 133
Missouri 156
Montana 160
Nebraska NA
Nevada 141
New Hampshire 163
New Jersey 155
New Mexico 142
New York 148
North Carolina 148
North Dakota 162
Ohio 157
Oklahoma 148
Oregon 151
Pennsylvania 154
Rhode Island 150
South Carolina 149
South Dakota 157
Tennessee 148
Texas 148
Utah 154
Vermont NA
Virginia 162
Washington 151
West Virginia 148
Wisconsin 157
Wyoming 156
Puerto Rico NA

NA = not available

NOTES: 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 2012

Source Data

State Data Tool

The state data tool allows interactive exploration of the 58 indicators in this chapter. Users have the ability to choose and explore a single indicator in-depth, compare multiple indicators for preselected groups, customize their own graphics, or download data tables. Click the button below to get started.