R.I. NECAP science scores rise in grade 8, off slightly in grades 4, 11

Scores up significantly over past six years


Rhode Island science scores improved in grade 8 for the fourth consecutive year, while declining slightly in grades 4 and 11.
 
Overall, 33.8 percent of tested students in the state attained the level of proficiency or better on the 2013 NECAP Science assessments, which all students in grades 4, 8, and 11 took in May. The statewide results represents a decline of 1 percentage point from last year and an increase of 10 percentage points since NECAP Science assessments began five years ago.
 
In grade 8, 29.8 percent of Rhode Island students were proficient or better (up 3 points from last year and up 11 points from 2008); 40.9 of grade-4 students were proficient or better (down 5 points from last year and up 5 points since 2008) and 30.1 percent of grade-11 students were proficient or better (down 2 points from last year and up 14 points since 2008).
 
The trends in each grade this year are similar across the three states that participate in the New England Common Assessment Program (NECAP) science assessments: New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont. 
 
“Though the science results this year do not show the same dramatic improvements that we celebrated a year ago, I am pleased that the long-term trend is positive and that our middle-school students continue to improve in science achievement,” said Governor Lincoln D. Chafee. “We need to see continued improvement in science results over the coming years if our students are to succeed in the challenging careers of the 21st century.”
 
“One of the first actions this year of the new Board of Education was the approval of the Next Generation Science Standards, which will guide science instruction in Rhode Island over the coming years,”  said Eva-Marie Mancuso, Chair of the Board of Education. “With its focus on hands-on learning and scientific inquiry, these standards will help Rhode Island students continue making progress toward proficiency in science.”
 
Though achievement gaps in science remain substantially wide in all three tested grades, the achievement gaps narrowed this year, particularly in grade 4 where gaps for black students, Hispanic students, students with disabilities, English learners, and economically-disadvantaged students all narrowed by several percentage points. Some gaps narrowed in grade 11 as well, but gaps remain unchanged or even widened in grade 8. 
 
“As we work together to improve student achievement in science, it is essential that we provide great instruction, resources, and support to all Rhode Island students,” said Education Commissioner Deborah A. Gist. “We will continue our work helping districts develop strong science curricula and providing more opportunities for students in all districts to take AP classes and other challenging courses in science. I am confident that our results can continue to improve, for all students and in all grade levels.”
 
The NECAP science assessments consist of multiple-choice, constructed-response, and inquiry task items on earth and space science, physical science, and life sciences. 
 
A report on the results of the 2013 NECAP Science assessments will be available on the RIDE website.