Kentucky science scores flat; still lead national average

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(FRANKFORT, Ky.) – Kentucky’s 4th- and 8th-graders continue to outperform their peers nationally in science, according to data from the 2015 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), released Oct. 27 by the Kentucky Department of Education.

While Kentucky’s scores remain relatively flat from the last administration of the NAEP science tests, Kentucky students still perform significantly above the national average.

Kentucky and National Scale Scores for NAEP Science, 2015

 4th-Grade5th-Grade
KentuckyNational AverageKentuckyNational Average
2009161149156149
2011**157151
2015160153157153
The NAEP science grading scale ranges from 0 to 300. The National Assessment Governing Board, which sets policy for NAEP, cancelled the 2011 4th-grade science assessment.

“These scores are based on early implementation of Kentucky’s Academic Standards in
Science,” Commissioner of Education Stephen Pruitt said. “I believe the next time we see NAEP science scores reported, we will see significant improvement, since Kentucky teachers will have had more time to align their teaching methods and materials with the standards and students will have had time to build a stronger foundation of learning based on the standards and what they demand.”

Pruitt said despite the overall good news that Kentucky performance remains strong in science as compared with the rest of the nation, the state cannot overlook the ongoing issue of achievement gaps between various groups of students.

“We see it on our state tests and this assessment is no different,” Pruitt said. “We have got to take action to close the achievement gap and eliminate what I believe is its root cause – the opportunity gap – for every student.”

The good news is that in Kentucky there is not a significant difference in science performance between male and female students.

NAEP Science Scores by Student Groups, 2015

 4th Grade8th Grade
Average ScorePercent at or Above BasicPercent at or Above ProficientAverage ScorePercent at or Above BasicPercent at or Above Proficient
White16487481607638
Black13860221344510
Hispanic14973301557230
Asian######
Two or
More Races
1598141###
Eligible for Free/Reduced Price Meal
15277341496323
Not Eligible for Free/Reduced Price Meal
17293611688449
Male16184461597438
Female15983431557130
# Insufficient number to report

 

For more than 30 years, NAEP, also known as the nation’s Report Card, has been the country’s only nationally representative and continuing survey of students’ educational achievement.

The assessment is authorized by Congress, directed by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) and developed by Educational Testing Service of Princeton, N.J.

Not all students in the designated grades or in every school take NAEP tests, only a sampling. Westat Inc. of Rockville, Md., conducts sample selection and data collection. Because the national NAEP samples were not designed to support the reporting of state-level results, state NAEP samples were introduced in 1990 to provide participating states reliable data concerning the achievement of their students.

NAEP protects the confidentiality of students, teachers and schools that participate by not reporting individual student, teacher, school or district data.

KEY FINDINGS FOR 2015 NAEP SCIENCE – 4th grade

  • In 2015, the average science score for 4th-grade students in Kentucky was 160. This was higher than the average score (153) for public school students in the nation.
  • The average score for 4th-grade students in Kentucky in 2015 (160) was not significantly different from that in 2009 (161).
  • In 2015, the percentage of 4th-grade students in Kentucky who performed at or above Proficient was 44 percent. This was greater than that for the nation’s public schools (37 percent).
  • The percentage of 4th-grade students in Kentucky who performed at or above Proficient in 2015 (44 percent) was not significantly different from that in 2009 (45 percent).
  • In 2015, the percentage of 4th-grade students in Kentucky who performed at or above Basic was 83 percent. This was greater than that for the nation’s public schools (76 percent).
  • The percentage of 4th-grade students in Kentucky who performed at or above Basic in 2015 (83 percent) was not significantly different from that in 2009 (83 percent).

KEY FINDINGS FOR 2015 NAEP SCIENCE – 8th grade

  • In 2015, the average science score for 8th-grade students in Kentucky was 157. This was higher than that of the nation’s public schools (153).
  • The average score for 8th-grade students in Kentucky in 2015 (157) was not significantly different from that in 2011 (157) or in 2009 (156).
  • In 2015, the percentage of 8th-grade students in Kentucky who performed at or above Proficient was 35 percent. This was greater than that for the nation’s public schools (33 percent).
  • The percentage of 8th-grade students in Kentucky who performed at or above Proficient in 2015 (35 percent) was not significantly different from that in 2011 (34 percent) or in 2009 (34 percent).
  • In 2015, the percentage of 8th-grade students in Kentucky who performed at or above Basic was 73 percent. This was greater than that for the nation’s public schools (67 percent).
  • The percentage of 8th-grade students in Kentucky who performed at or above Basic in 2015 (73 percent) was not significantly different from that in 2011 (72 percent) or in 2009 (71 percent).

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