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What's Our National Science Grade?

Science Under the Microscope


What's Our National Science Grade?The National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), often simply called "The Nation's Report Card", has released the results of Science testing from 2009.

They gave a standardized assessment to randomly selected students in grades 4, 8, and 12, grading them as Basic, Proficient, or Advanced. Over the next few months, you'll probably hear the usual array of doomsday announcements based on the most negative findings of the study. Since I'm more of a "glass is half full" kind of guy, let me share some of the good news:


NAEP is a Good Standardized Test
The NAEP process is scientifically-based in a way that few state's science tests are, and the entire process is easy to understand. In my opinion, NAEP testing is a model for the rest of the nation. Moreover, the Science NAEP test includes constructed-response (open-ended) questions, interactive computer tasks, and hands-on performance tasks, along with the standard multiple-choice questions. In this way, I find NAEP to be a much more valid measurement of what our students are learning in Science.

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NAEP is Useful to Teachers
Not only is the test itself more authentic, and its results more valid, but the organization that administers the test, the National Assessment Governing Board, has created an online resource for educators. The NEAP website allows anyone to view results, find meaning in them, and even print out custom created assessments using released NAEP questions.


NAEP Keeps Up With the Times
The 2009 data is not comparable to previous assessments (2005, 2000, 1996) because they completely redesigned the test to address changes in what science literacy means today. The NAGB created an entire framework to determine which skills needed to be assessed and how they should be assessed differently than before. How many standardized tests can say the same?

Are you ready for a challenge?  To see if you are more Science-smart than your students, explore sample questions from the 2009 Science NEAP.


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