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TN Students the Fastest Improving in the Nation in Science

Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam today announced that Tennessee students are the fastest improving in the nation in science, according to the 2015 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), commonly known as the Nation’s Report Card.

The last time fourth and eighth grade students both took NAEP science was 2009, and the 2015 NAEP results show Tennessee is the only state to grow faster than the nation in both grades with Tennessee students doubling the average national growth.

Tennessee also narrowed or eliminated several achievement gaps. The gap between the science performance of male and female students was completely eliminated in both grades. In both fourth and eighth grade science the gap in achievement scores between white and African-American students narrowed, and the gap tightened between white and Latino students in fourth grade.

naep-2015-science-gainsWith these scores, Tennessee now ranks 19th and 21st in the country on fourth and eighth grade science, respectively – the highest rankings the state has ever had on the Nation’s Report Card.

“We couldn’t be prouder of today’s news. When you think of what’s important to the future of Tennessee, having our students double the national average growth in science is incredibly powerful. Not only that, but every single student group in Tennessee improved. We narrowed what we call our achievement gaps and completely eliminated the gender gap,” Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam said. “We are on a long journey. We’ve done the hard work of raising expectations, investing more in education and letting our teachers and students show us what they can do, and again and again, our students and teachers are stepping up to the challenge.”

Since 2007, Tennessee has been working to raise academic expectations and strengthen teaching across subjects, building all students’ critical thinking and problem solving abilities. In addition, the state has invested in innovation and technology, encouraging more science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) for students in every grade and strengthening college and career pathways for all students.

“We’ve set high expectations across the board for our students in Tennessee, and our performance on the Nation’s Report Card continues to reflect the hard work and progress our students and teachers are making,” Tennessee Commissioner of Education Candice McQueen, said. “To me, the most encouraging part of today’s science results is that all of Tennessee’s students are showing what is possible. We’ve narrowed or eliminated gaps between groups of students, and we are continuing to make huge strides with all students.”

In 2013, Tennessee became the fastest improving state in the country on the Nation’s Report Card for math and reading. The state’s 2015 results maintained the unprecedented growth with a new class of students, proving the gains were real. Those results also gave the state its highest ranking until today — 25th in fourth grade math. Tennessee has a goal to rank in the top half of all states on the Nation’s Report Card by 2019, and these results put the state in the top 25 on three of those assessments.

The Nation’s Report Card, also known as the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), is the largest nationally representative and continuing assessment of what students in the United States know and can do in various subject areas. It is known as the gold standard of large-scale student assessments. Between January and March 2015, the NAEP science assessment was given to approximately 115,400 fourth graders, 110,900 eighth graders, and 11,000 12th graders across 46 states and the Department of Defense system, representing the nation’s public and private schools.

AT A GLANCE:

  •     Tennessee is the only state to grow faster than the nation in both fourth and eighth grade science.
  •     Tennessee eighth graders were the fastest improving in the nation.
  •     Tennessee fourth graders were the second fastest improving in the nation.
  •     Tennessee students doubled the average national growth across states in both fourth and eighth grade science, launching Tennessee into the top half of all the states.
  •     Tennessee now ranks 19th and 21st in the country in fourth and eighth grade science, respectively. These are the highest rankings Tennessee has ever had on the Nation’s Report Card.
  •     Tennessee students narrowed or eliminated nearly every achievement gap:
  •     In both fourth and eighth grade science, the gap in achievement scores between white and African-American students narrowed.
  •     The gap tightened between white and Latino students in fourth grade.
  •     The gap between male and female students was completely eliminated in both grades.

Full results for the nation and states are available online at nationsreportcard.gov. For media inquiries about Tennessee’s results, please contact Sara Gast at Sara.Gast@tn.gov or call (615) 532-6260.

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