The U.S. got its national science report card on Thursday, and Florida students scored at or above the national average.
Fourth-graders in Florida scored 5 points above the nation in the science section of the National Assessment of Educational Progress, which is administered by the U.S. Department of Education to keep tabs on how well students across the country understand key subjects. Florida’s eight-graders were on par with the national average.
Florida students also showed slight improvements since 2009, the last time the assessment was given at both grade levels. The recently released scores are from 2015.
Informally known as the Nation’s Report Card, the national assessment is designed to measure improvements over time and groups students into three categories: those with a basic, proficient and advanced understanding of the subject. Forty-two percent of Florida fourth-graders achieved proficiency or above in science, compared to 37 percent nationwide.
On a national level, the assessment showed that achievement gaps between white, black and Hispanic students and between male and female students are narrowing at the fourth and eighth grades, but have remained stubbornly persistent for high school seniors.
“The gaps are narrowing primarily because minority students are making greater gains,” said Peggy Carr, the commissioner for the National Center for Education Statistics, the Department of Education office that crunches the numbers. “There's still progress to be made because these gaps are still large, particularly in the racial, ethnic comparison.”
Florida’s above-average science scores followed a pattern seen in other subject areas. The most recent national assessment results for reading and math were released in 2015, and showed Florida students in grades four and eight doing as well as the national average or better in almost all categories. They scored below the rest of the country only in eighth-grade math.