Science report card

Science scores improved for fourth graders on the newly released 2005 NAEP (National Assessment of Educational Progress) report, stayed about the same for eighth graders and declined in 12th grade.

Sixty-eight percent of fourth graders scored at or above the basic level; 29 percent scored at or above proficient. Minority students narrowed the achievement gap.

An example of the knowledge associated with the Basic level is identifying two organs in the human body that work together to supply oxygen. . . . Relating the amount of time a candle burns to the amount of air available is an example of the knowledge and skills at the Proficient level.

Eighth graders showed no improvement overall, though blacks did make gains.

In 2005, 59 percent of students scored at or above the Basic level. An example of the knowledge and skills at the Basic level is being able to compare changes in heart rate during and after exercise. Twenty-nine percent performed at or above the Proficient level. Identifying the energy conversions that occur in an electric fan is an example of the knowledge and skills at the Proficient level.

Average scores declined for 12th graders with only 54 percent at the basic level or above and 18 percent at proficient.

Knowing the function of a neuron is an example of knowledge at the Basic level. . . . Identifying the source of heat energy released in a combustion reaction is an example of knowledge at the Proficient level.

California, Hawaii, Kentucky, South Carolina, and Virginia showed the most progress.

Update: Gadfly points out that Kentucky, South Carolina and Virginia — unlike most states — test students in science; California’s science standards are highly rated by the Fordham Foundation.

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