But African-Americans and Hispanics perform below the state average
Dec 1, 2016 | Atlanta, GA
The science scores of Georgia students improved from six years ago, according to the latest Nation’s Report Card, which measures “what U.S. students know and can do in different subjects.”
Based on the 2015 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), the latest report shows an overall improvement in the science scores of grade 4 and grade 8 students in Georgia compared with results from 2009. Average science scores rose to 152 in 2015 from 144 (grade 4) and 147 (grade 8) in 2009. They are on par with the 2015 national average of 153, up from 149 in 2009.
In 2015, significantly more grade 4 and grade 8 students performed at the Proficient level, the median performance level used to rank students. In 2009 only 27% of students in either grade performed at that level. In 2015, 35% of grade 4 students and 31% of grade 8 students were ranked Proficient in science.
NAEP measures what U.S. students know and can do in science through tests that include questions on life sciences, Earth and space sciences, and physical sciences. The tests measure students’ ability to identify scientific principles, use scientific inquiry to evaluate data and critique conclusions, and use technical design to create scientific solutions.
“It is so encouraging to see gains in science in Georgia and at the national level,” says Lizanne DeStefano, executive director of the Center for Education Integrating Science, Mathematics, and Computing (CEISMC). CEISMC is the Georgia Tech College of Sciences unit dedicated to educational research and enhancing K-12 science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education in Georgia. “It appears that efforts focused on increasing young students’ interest and achievement in STEM are paying off,” DeStefano says.
Along with rising science scores, the 2015 report card for grade 4 and grade 8 students in Georgia continues to indicate no difference in the performance of male and female students. This gap has been closed since 2005 for grade 4 students and since 2011 for grade 8.
Underrepresented groups also performed better in 2015. For example, among grade 8 students, African-Americans’ average score was 137, up from 129 in 2009, and Hispanic students’ average score rose to 148, from 137 in 2009 in 2009. Despite these achievements, however, these student groups scored below the state average.
“CEISMC remains optimistic that performance in STEM for African-American and Hispanic students will see an increase in the future,” DeStefano says.
DeStefano’s optimism is based in part on CEISMC’s multiple programs to increase the participation of underrepresented student populations in STEM fields. For example, CEISMC recently received a $2.5 million National Science Foundation grant to implement CAPACiTY, a program that aims to improve pre-college computing education in Georgia.