Students perform better in science

Vermont students in eighth grade and juniors in high school did better on science exams this year compared to last while the achievement of fourth-graders stayed the same, according to results of the New England Common Assessment Program science assessments released by the state Education Department today.

An achievement gap between low-income students and those who are not continues to exist among classes of students that were tested.

The test does not track individual student progress in science over time. It tests different groups of students each year.

The results, from tests given in spring of this year, show that 53 percent of Vermont fourth graders were assessed and scored as proficient or higher in science, equaling last year’s level.

While in eighth grade , 30 percent were proficient or higher, up one percentage point from 2011.

In 11th grade, 33 percent were proficient or higher, up 2 percentage points from 2011, according to the DOE.

This is the fifth year of administration of the NECAP science assessment, which combines scores from multiple choice and short answer questions with results from an inquiry task that requires students to analyze and interpret findings from an actual science experiment.

“As in previous years, many of our students struggled with the writing portion of the inquiry task that requires them to explain the results of their mini-research study, supporting their conclusions with the data they collected,” said Michael Hock, Director of Educational Assessment.

“Our new Common Core State Standards emphasize the reading and writing skills students use in science and social studies,” said Education Commissioner Armando Vilaseca. “We are hoping this new emphasis on reading and writing in the content areas will have a positive impact on science results in the future.”

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