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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 46 jurisdictions that participated in the 2009 fourth grade science assessment, 24 had scores that were higher than the national average, 12 were not significantly different, and 10 were lower.
  • Nationally, the 2009 average science score for white public school fourth grade students was 162 compared to 127 for black students, a gap of 35 points, and 130 for Hispanic students, a gap of 32 points, based upon racial classifications provided by the schools.
  • Male fourth grade public school students scored 1 point higher in science than female fourth grade public school students although females scored higher in the life science subsection 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 NAEP science assessment, conducted by the National Center for Education Statistics, is part of a legally mandated federal effort to measure student performance. It measures students’ knowledge and skill in science and their ability to apply that knowledge in the content areas of physical, life, and earth and space science. The NAEP assessment in science was updated in 2009 to keep pace with recent developments in science and science education. Because it is based on a new framework, 2009 results cannot be compared to those from previous science assessments. Student performance is presented in terms of average scores on a scale from 0 to 300.

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. Students with disabilities or limited English-language proficiency are allowed to use certain accommodations (e.g., extra testing time or individual rather than group administration). All data presented here represent scores from tests taken with accommodations offered. For additional details on NAEP scores by gender and race/ethnicity, see appendix tables 8-1 to 8-12.

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 Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) grade 4 science scores are for public schools only. For additional details on NAEP scores by sex and race or ethnicity, see appendix tables 8-1–8-12.

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

Science and Engineering Indicators 2014

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.