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Chapter 8. State Indicators

Elementary and Secondary Education

Eighth Grade Science Proficiency



Findings

  • In 2011, 31% of eighth grade public school students nationwide performed at or above the proficient level in science. State values for this indicator ranged from 19% to 45%.
  • Nationally, the percentage of eighth grade white students demonstrating proficient performance in science was 43% in 2011 compared to 9% for black students, a gap of 34 percentage points, and 16% for Hispanic students, a gap of 27 percentage points, based upon the racial classifications provided by the schools. In 2009, these gaps were 33 and 29 percentage points, respectively.


Description

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 Governing Board sets performance standards that provide a context for interpreting National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) results. The standards define “proficiency” as well as “advanced” and “basic” accomplishment. For the eighth grade, the proficient level (scores 170–214) represents solid academic performance and demonstrates competency over challenging subject-matter knowledge. The advanced level (215–300) signifies superior performance. The basic level (141–169) denotes partial mastery of knowledge and skills that are prerequisite for proficient work. The National Center for Education Statistics has determined that achievement levels should be used on a trial basis and interpreted with caution.

Approximately 122,000 eighth grade students in 7,290 schools participated in the 2011 NAEP science assessment. A designation of “NA” (not available) indicates that the state either did not participate in the assessment or did not meet minimum guidelines for reporting. NAEP allows students with disabilities or limited English-language proficiency 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 8-8
Students reaching proficiency in eighth grade science, by state: 2009 and 2011
(Percent)
 
State 2009 2011
 
United States 29 31
Alabama 19 19
Alaska NA 34
Arizona 22 23
Arkansas 24 26
California 20 22
Colorado 36 42
Connecticut 35 35
Delaware 25 28
District of Columbia NA 8
Florida 25 28
Georgia 27 30
Hawaii 17 22
Idaho 37 38
Illinois 28 26
Indiana 32 33
Iowa 35 35
Kansas NA 35
Kentucky 34 34
Louisiana 20 22
Maine 35 37
Maryland 28 32
Massachusetts 41 44
Michigan 35 38
Minnesota 40 42
Mississippi 15 19
Missouri 36 36
Montana 43 44
Nebraska NA 38
Nevada 20 23
New Hampshire 39 42
New Jersey 34 34
New Mexico 21 22
New York 31 29
North Carolina 24 26
North Dakota 42 45
Ohio 37 38
Oklahoma 25 26
Oregon 35 35
Pennsylvania 35 33
Rhode Island 26 31
South Carolina 23 28
South Dakota 40 42
Tennessee 28 31
Texas 29 32
Utah 39 43
Vermont NA 43
Virginia 36 40
Washington 34 35
West Virginia 22 24
Wisconsin 38 40
Wyoming 36 38
Puerto Rico NA NA
 

NA = not available.

NOTES: National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) grade 8 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.

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