Ohio Slightly Ahead of the Nation in Science Test Scores
by Michelle Faust
New scores on the National Assessment of Educational Progress report show that, on average, Ohio students are ahead in science scores. The Nation’s Report Card came out Thursday revealing how students across the country scored in science in 2015.
Compared to the national average (37 and 33 percent), more fourth and eighth graders in Ohio are passing the standardized science test, at 41 percent and 38 percent respectively. The average national score for fourth and eighth graders 153 points, Ohio students were ahead of that by 4 points on average.
The assessment allows the regulators gauge how students are progressing in the sciences. Education researchers say they will use the results of the assessment to learn more about what science teaching methodologies are most effective.
“Our nation’s future is inextricably linked to how well we educate our students in science, technology, engineering and mathematics,” U.S. Secretary of Education John King said in a recent call with reporters, “Without a strong education in these vital disciplines, our nation cannot compete in the global economy.”
Ohio: Ahead of the Nation, but Stagnant
Scores across the country improved on the science test, but Ohio is not seeing the same growth.
“For Ohio—fourth and eighth grade—we’re seeing no significant improvement across any of the racial ethnic groups,” said Peggy Carr, Acting Commissioner of the National Center for Education Statistics.
The state’s fourth graders on average held their science scores at 157 from 2009 to 2015. Eighth graders lost a point on average, slipping from 158 in 2009 and 2011 to 157 in 2015.
Racial Achievement Gap
On average, national achievement gaps narrowed with improved scores among black and Latino students.
“It is especially encouraging that nearly all racial and ethnic groups made gains over the last 7 years. And we’re seeing racial achievement gaps in the sciences are narrowing in the fourth and eighth grades. Gender gaps also are closing,” said King.
Ohio didn’t share in national gains. The numbers for Ohio eighth graders showed a slight improvement in from 2009 to 2011. Black students showed a 6-point gain and Latino kids gained 11 points. By 2015, most of those gains were lost. That year, on average science scores slipped 5 points among black eighth graders and 9 points for Latino students.
The Good News: Girls Catching Up with Boys
Nationally, girls and boys in fourth grade both scored 153 points on average closing a one-point gap from 2009. Eighth grade girls score an average three-points less than boys, narrowing the gender split from prior assessment years.
Ohio follows the national trend, the gap between boys and girls scores is fairly small. Fourth grade boys score 3 points higher than girls, but girls in that age group made an average one-point gain over 2009.
The state’s eighth grader girls also closed in on their male counterparts by a point, a seven-point split in 2009 became a gap of 4 points in 2015.
John Holdren, director of the White House Office of Science and Technology explained that investments in science education are bearing fruit, “In part by bringing practicing scientists, engineers and mathematicians into K through 12 classrooms to work with the teachers to make the curriculum more exciting and more relevant to kids, but also to serve as role models.”
Holdren said kids do well when they see diverse people who are working in the science fields.