Mass. 8th-Graders Finish 2nd In Science Exam

Massachusetts eighth-graders tied for second place on a national science proficiency exam, a federal report has found.

The Patrick administration said the state's eighth-graders had an average scaled score of 161 on the 2011 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) exam — a figure above the national average of 151.

As the Associated Press reports: "Just 44 percent of Massachusetts eighth-graders scored 'proficient' or above. But the national average was 31 percent."

North Dakota finished first among states, with an average score of 164.

On the 2009 NAEP science exam, the state's eighth-graders also finished second behind North Dakota with an average score of 160.

"We are always looking to improve performance," Education Commissioner Mitchell Chester said in a statement, "and efforts underway to revise the state's science framework will help to ensure that schools in Massachusetts deliver a top-notch science curriculum to all students."

Nationally, eighth-graders' scores improved compared to the 2009 exam, but education officials expressed concern over the 31 percent proficiency rate. Said Gerry Wheeler, interim head of the National Science Teachers Association, per the AP:

When you consider the importance of being scientifically literate in today's global economy, these scores are simply unacceptable.

The full science exam "Report Card" can be found here.

In other 2011 NAEP exams, Massachusetts eighth-graders finished first in math and tied for first in reading.

This program aired on May 10, 2012. The audio for this program is not available.

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Benjamin Swasey Digital Manager
Ben is WBUR's digital news manager.



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