Science assessment scores show gaps, progress for certain student group
July 12, 2021
Average science scores for the nation’s fourth-grade students declined by two points compared to 2015, while average scores did not change significantly among students in grades 8 and 12, according to 2019 National Assessment of Educational Progress Science results released recently.
The latest results show score gaps have widened between higher- and lower-performing students in grades 4 and 8, with the changes driven by declines among lower-performing students. A similar trend has been observed across NAEP subject areas and grade levels in recent years, including in mathematics and reading at grades 4 and 8.
At the same time, when compared to 2009, NAEP science scores show some progress overall and among certain student groups. Average NAEP science scores for fourth- and eighth-grade students have risen by one point and four points, respectively, since 2009. In grade 8, the score gap between White and Black students has narrowed and the gap between male and female students has closed.
“While we’ve seen encouraging progress in science results over the last decade, the latest scores suggest progress has stalled since the last assessment,” said Gov. Haley Barbour, chair of the National Assessment Governing Board, which sets policy for NAEP. “The COVID-19 pandemic has shown just how important it is to understand the science in our lives. Science knowledge will be key to the growth of our economy and workforce, especially in STEM, so we need to improve learning in this subject.”
The latest NAEP science assessment was administered from January to March 2019, well before the pandemic. The assessment covers three content areas: Physical Science, Life Science, and Earth and Space Sciences.
For full results from the 2019 NAEP Science assessment, visit
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