The results from the 2009 administration of the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) in science released today, but I’m really not sure what to make of the results.
The BIG problem: unlike the NAEP results for math and reading, which I reported on earlier in this freedomkentucky.org Wiki article, the eighth grade proficiency rates from the new science NAEP differ sharply from information on science performance that Kentucky has been getting from the ACT’s EXPLORE test, which is given to all eighth grade students in the state.
According to the new NAEP results, 34 percent of Kentucky’s eighth grade students tested Proficient or Above in science in the late winter of 2009.
The EXPLORE results for the same, 2008-09 class of eighth graders, show only 10.48 percent of Kentucky’s students met the Benchmark Score that indicates those students are on track for eventual success in a college science course.
The difference is clearly quite pronounced.
The EXPLORE test has good linking to the actual ACT college entrance test, which in turn does a worthwhile job of indicating real college preparedness.
The justification for the new NAEP science scoring scale is not so straight-forward, and it now comes into considerable question.
All that said, Kentucky’s white students, who make up about 85 percent of our school enrollment, scored somewhere between fifth from the bottom and 20th from the top on eighth grade NAEP science in 2009, as this map (click on it to enlarge) from the NAEP Data Explorer, which covers white students’ NAEP proficiency rates, shows.
White students in states shown in green got statistically significantly higher scores on science than our kids (19 states). Those in tan tied us (22 states). The four states in salmon color scored statistically significantly lower. Five states chose not to participate.
Despite some inappropriate, ‘mathematically challenged’ comparisons you will undoubtedly get from others, the NAEP does not support a finer ranking for Kentucky due to the fact that this federal assessment is a sampled test. Thus, the scores have plus and minus errors that blur small differences in performance.
Basically, Kentucky scores somewhere in the enormous middle of performance.
BUT, we still don’t know if the NAEP is just too easy. Unlike the very consistent message we get from NAEP math and reading and EXPLORE, the new science results show NAEP may have some very serious scoring inflation in this subject.