Vermont eighth-grade students above national average in science

May 10, 2012

Challis Breithaupt
(802) 828-5892
Department of Education

MONTPELIER – The National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) released the statewide performance results from the 2011 assessment in Science for grade 8 students today.

A representative sample of 122,000 eighth-graders participated nationwide in the assessment. In Vermont, 1,800 students were assessed. Results for the science assessment are provided in the table below as scale scores and achievement levels. The results are reported as average scores on a 0 to 300 scale and as percentages of students performing at or above three achievement levels—Basic (partial mastery of knowledge and skills), Proficient (solid academic performance), and Advanced (superior performance).

There are no results for individual students, classrooms or schools. NAEP reports results for different demographic groups, including race/ethnicity, gender and socioeconomic status.

Vermont ‘s scale score shared the top spot with Colorado, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Montana, New Hampshire, North Dakota, South Dakota, Utah and the Department of Defense schools.

The content of the NAEP science assessment is determined by a framework. Frameworks describe the specific knowledge and skills to be assessed in each subject. This framework organizes science content into a series of statements that describe key facts, concepts, principles, laws, and theories in three broad areas. These areas are Physical Science, Life Science and Earth and Space Science. Physical Science deals with matter, energy, and motion; Life Science with structures and functions of living systems and changes in living systems; and Earth and Space Sciences with Earth in space and time, Earth structures, and Earth systems.

The proportion of assessment time devoted to each of the three science content areas reflects the emphasis in each area at grade eight: 30 percent physical science, 30 percent life science, and 40 percent Earth and space sciences.

Four science practices are also defined in the framework. These four practices-identifying science principles, using science principles, using scientific inquiry, and using technological design—describe how students use their science knowledge by measuring what they are able to do with the science content.

The science assessment was given last in 2009. Vermont chose to not participate in the assessment in 2009. The next time the science assessment will be given is 2015. The every four years’ cycle will coincide with the administration of the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) an international assessment of mathematics and science knowledge of fourth and eighth grade students around the world.

For more information about Vermont’s performance on NAEP, as well as national results of the 2011 administration, please visit

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