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Chapter 8. State Indicators

Elementary and Secondary Education

Eighth grade science performance


  • In 2009, the nationwide average science score of eighth grade public school students was 149. Average scores for individual states ranged from a high of 162 to low of 132.
  • Of the 47 states and jurisdictions that participated, 25 had scores that were higher than the national average and 15 had scores that were lower.
  • Nationally, the science score gap between white and black public school eighth grade students was 36 points, and the gap between white and Hispanic public eighth grade students was 30 points.
  • Male eighth grade public school students nationally scored 4 points higher in science than female eighth grade public school students.


This indicator represents each state's average score on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) in science for its eighth 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, therefore, these results cannot be compared to those from previous science assessments. They provide a current snapshot of what eighth 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 applicable) 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 8-7
Average eighth grade science performance, by state: 2009
(Score out of 300)
State 2009
United States 149
Alabama 139
Alaska NA
Arizona 141
Arkansas 144
California 137
Colorado 156
Connecticut 155
Delaware 148
District of Columbia NA
Florida 146
Georgia 147
Hawaii 139
Idaho 158
Illinois 148
Indiana 152
Iowa 156
Kansas NA
Kentucky 156
Louisiana 139
Maine 158
Maryland 148
Massachusetts 160
Michigan 153
Minnesota 159
Mississippi 132
Missouri 156
Montana 162
Nebraska NA
Nevada 141
New Hampshire 160
New Jersey 155
New Mexico 143
New York 149
North Carolina 144
North Dakota 162
Ohio 158
Oklahoma 146
Oregon 154
Pennsylvania 154
Rhode Island 146
South Carolina 143
South Dakota 161
Tennessee 148
Texas 150
Utah 158
Vermont NA
Virginia 156
Washington 155
West Virginia 145
Wisconsin 157
Wyoming 158
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 8 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.