ETS Policy Notes — A Deeper Look at NAEP Science Results

Barton, Paul
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Educational trends elementary education grade 4 grade 8 longitudinal studies low achievement national surveys science achievement science tests standards trend analysis


This issue of ETS Policy Notes (Volume 11, No. 1) presents the results of a special analysis of NAEP state-by-state science data from 1996 to 2000 carried out by the Educational Testing Service under contract with the National Center for Education Statistics. The focus is on changes in the gap in scores between different groups of students. There were a few bright spots, but overall the results over this 4-year period of national concentration on standards-based reform were disappointing. There were no improvements on three indicators: the gap between the top and bottom quartile, the gap between white and minority students, and the gap between poor and nonpoor students. The gap actually grew in 11 states between the top and bottom quartiles and in 7 states between poor and nonpoor students. Only one state showed an improvement for the bottom quartile of students, but 17 states registered an improvement for the top quartile of the student population, and 7 states increased the percentage of students reaching the proficient level. Only three states, however, raised the statewide average scores. One state improved on four of seven indicators, and just two states improved on three indicators. Results underscore the importance of examining multiple indicators of state performance when analyzing NAEP data. ED 469 747

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