SUPTS. MEMO. NO. 78
May 2, 1997
||Richard T. La Pointe
Superintendent of Public Instruction
||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.