COMMONWEALTH OF VIRGINIA
DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION
P. O. BOX 2120
RICHMOND, VIRGINIA 23218-2120
SUPTS. MEMO. NO. 78
May 2, 1997

INFORMATIONAL

TO: Division Superintendents
FROM:
 
Richard T. La Pointe
Superintendent of Public Instruction
SUBJECT:
 
National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) 
1996 Science Report Card for the Nation and the States

 
     The purpose of this memorandum is to share with you
 results of the National Assessment of Educational Progress
 (NAEP) 1996 Science Assessment. The National Center for
 Education Statistics (NCES) announced these results at a press
 conference on May 2, 1997. The published report of these
 results, titled NAEP 1996 Science Report Card for the Nation
 and the States, will be printed in late May. A copy of this
 publication will be sent to you upon receipt. (Note: The
 content and some language of this memorandum were extracted
 from a pre-publication copy of the report.)

     As you likely know, NAEP has three different assessment
 programs:

 1.  National main NAEP is administered to national samples of
     students in grades four, eight, and twelve to provide
     information about achievement of the nation's students.
     No state-level data is available. National main NAEP has
     been in place since 1969; 

 2.  Long-term trend national NAEP provides measures of change
     over time; and 

 3.  State NAEP began in 1990. Virginia's participation in
     state NAEP is required by the Code of Virginia.

 The NAEP 1996 science assessment included two of these
 programs: National main NAEP and State NAEP. The content of
 the tests for these two programs is the same; only the samples
 of students selected to participate in the respective programs
 are different. 
 The science framework on which the test items are based is
 new. Thus, no longitudinal data are presented in this report. 


 SUPTS. MEMO. NO. 78
 Page 2
 May 2, 1997


     Typically, student performance on NAEP assessments is
 summarized as (1) an average scale score and (2) the percent
 of students performing at various achievement levels. The NAEP
 1996 Science Report Card for the Nation and the States
 presents only scale score results. The NAEP science scales
 range from 0 to 300 at each of grades 4, 8, and 12. The scales
 were developed separately at each grade. Thus, a scale score
 of 150 represents a different level of achievement at each
 grade. The National Assessment Governing Board expects to
 release achievement level results in a separate report in the
 fall of 1997, following collection of additional validation
 results from external studies and content descriptions of the
 achievement levels.

 National Main NAEP 1996 Science Assessment

     The national main NAEP 1996 science assessment was
 administered to nationally representative samples of
 approximately 7,500 public and non-public school students in
 each of grades four, eight, and twelve. In this memorandum,
 data are reported on the basis of demographic categories,
 level of parental education, and type of school attended.
 TABLES 1, 2, and 3 of this memorandum show results for grades
 four, eight, and twelve, respectively. Major findings include
 the following: 

     Male and female students in grades 4 and 8 had similar
     scores.  However, in grade 12, male students had
     statistically significantly higher scores than female
     students.

     White and Asian/Pacific Islander students had higher
     average scores than Black and Hispanic students at all
     three grades.

     American Indian students had higher average scores than
     Black and Hispanic students, in grades 4 and 8.  (The
     sample of American Indian students at grade 12 was too
     small to permit comparisons.)

     In general, at all three grades, higher levels of
     parental education were associated with higher levels of
     student performance.

     At all three grades, students who attended nonpublic
     schools had higher average scores than those who attended
     public schools.

 State NAEP 1996 Science Assessment

     The 1996 assessment marked the first time that NAEP
 examined science performance at the state level. At grade 8,
 43 states, the District of Columbia, Guam, and the Department
 of Defense schools participated in the voluntary, 

 SUPTS. MEMO. NO. 78
 Page 3
 May 2, 1997


 state-by-state NAEP science assessment.

     The state NAEP 1996 science assessment was administered
 to students in grade eight only. The state-level results for
 Virginia are based on a sample size of 2,552 eighth grade
 students from 106 Virginia public schools. In this memorandum,
 data are reported on the basis of demographic categories and
 level of parental education. In the state NAEP program, data
 are not reported below the state level. TABLE 4 of this
 memorandum shows results for Virginia. NCES is scheduled to
 publish a detailed state report of these and additional data
 in early fall. Major findings include the following: 

     The average science scale score in Virginia was 149. 
     This average did not differ significantly from that for
     the nation (148).

     Average science scale scores broken out by race/ethnicity
     indicate that Virginia's Asian/Pacific Islander students
     and White students scored above Hispanic and Black
     students.

     For Virginia's eighth-grade students, higher levels of
     parental education were associated with higher levels of
     student performance.

     There was no significant difference between scores for
     Virginia's eighth grade males and eighth grade females.

     As shown in TABLE 5 of this memorandum, Virginia students
     scored as high or higher than students in any other
     Southeastern region state.

     The NAEP 1996 Science Report Card for the Nation and the
 States and additional information about NAEP is available on
 the Internet at http://www.ed.gov/NCES/NAEP. If you have
 questions, please phone Kevin Hughes or Cam Harris at (804)
 225-2102. 

 krh

 cc: Division Test Directors
     Regional DOE Field Representatives


 *  The tables mentioned in this memo can be viewed at the
 Department of Education's Home Page on the World Wide Web.