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New science results: the good, the bad and the ugly

May 10, 2012

The National Assessment of Educational Progress – otherwise known as The Nation’s Report Card – is out with 8th grade science results.

Let’s start with the good news: Rhode Island’s average scale scores went up by three points compared with 2009, making the state one of just 16 jurisdictions showing similar increases. Also, Rhode Island students matched the national average for proficiency with 31 percent of students meeting that bar.

State officials say this is a first, and they are heartened by the improvement in science, which has traditionally been Rhode Island’s weakest subject in national testing.

The bad news is that Rhode Island is still has the lowest average scores in New England. The state also remains below the national average by two points.

The ugly is a persistent achievement gap between white students and students of color. Although Rhode Island is not unique in this problem, state officials note that just six states have larger gaps between white and black students. A mere two jurisdictions, Philadelphia, and the District of Columbia have larger gaps between white students and Hispanic students.

When it comes to Hispanic students,Rhode Island is not the only New England state that is struggling. Massachusetts and Connecticut are both right alongside the Ocean State with some of the largest achievement gaps in the country.

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