Maine students continued to score above the national average in science on the latest National Assessment of Educational Progress test, according to data released Thursday.

Nationally, there was a slight increase in the percentage of students who scored at or above proficient on the test, referred to as “The Nation’s Report Card.” The percentage of Maine students at or above proficiency in 2009 and in the 2015 results released Thursday remained the same for fourth-graders, and increased slightly for eighth-graders.

Maine students ranked in the top 10 nationally when comparing average scores on the test, which has a maximum score of 300 points. The test measures student knowledge in physical science, life science and Earth and space sciences.

• Maine fourth-graders had an average score of 158 points. Only six states and the group designated as students of military families had statistically significant higher average scores: New Hampshire, Virginia, Vermont, Nebraska, Massachusetts and Wyoming.

• Maine eighth-graders had an average score of 160 points. Only three states and Department of Defense students had a statistically significant higher average scores: Utah, New Hampshire and Vermont.

Looked at as a percentage of students scoring at or above proficiency, Maine was closer to the national average:


• Maine fourth-graders were in the middle of the pack, with 39 percent, compared to 37 percent nationwide. New Hampshire had the highest percentage, at 51 percent, and the lowest was Mississippi at 23 percent.

• Maine eighth-graders ranked significantly higher than the national average, with 38 percent at or above proficiency compared to 33 percent nationwide. Utah had the highest percentage at 50 percent, and the lowest was Mississippi at 20 percent.

The results come as many schools nationwide are undergoing significant changes. Education reform advocates say that even the highest scores demonstrate, at best, that only half the students are proficient in science.

In Maine, major education reforms have included adopting new Common Core standards in math and English, adopting new state assessments and shifting to a proficiency-based graduation model.

There is also an ongoing effort to update and overhaul Maine’s science standards.

Earlier this year, the governor vetoed a bill that would have required the state to adopt new science standards, saying it would be too costly and came when state educators were busy. Maine was part of a 26-state consortium that developed the standards, known as the Next Generation Science Standards.

Maine advocates that worked on the new Next Generation standards say many districts have already made the change because the new standards are superior to the current ones. The Maine Science Technology Engineering and Math – STEM – Council, has described the standards as superior to Maine’s current standards and more likely to foster job growth. The new standards place a stronger emphasis on engineering and using the scientific method to solve problems.


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