The most recent National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) test, administered last year to fourth-, eighth-, and twelfth-grade students across the United States, shows poor progress in U.S. science achievement. The good news is that fourth-grade scores were higher in 2005 than in 1996 and 2000, when previous science tests were conducted. According to the Department of Education, "since 2000, fourth-grade black and Hispanic students' scores rose seven and 11 points, respectively, narrowing the achievement gaps." Overshadowing these gains is the lack of overall improvement among eighth-graders, and the declining scores of twelfth-graders. These findings mirror those from the reading and math tests released last fall.
Some analysts, including Morton Kondracke, executive editor of the Capitol Hill newspaper "Roll Call", have used these results to call for action on the President's American Competitiveness Initiative (ACI). The House and Senate are considering bills that aim to increase science proficiency with grants and scholarships to attract additional qualified science teachers and to increase minority science participation.
To read the NAEP report in its entirety, please visit the Department of Education website at http://nces.ed.gov/nationsreportcard.
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