Test scores improve but still near bottom
Hawaii was one of just five states to achieve higher scores on a key national science test.
But even those scores remain near the bottom nationally on the science portion of the 2005 National Assessment of Educational Progress, often called the "nation's report card."
The test was given last year to fourth-, eighth- and 12th-graders. Twelfth-grade scores, however, are not compared state by state due to much smaller numbers of students tested.
Hawaii fourth-graders scored an average 142 out of 300 on the test, compared with a national average of 149, according to results released yesterday. Only five other states scored lower than Hawaii.
As for eighth-graders, just one state -- Mississippi -- scored lower than Hawaii's average score of 136.
State schools Superintendent Patricia Hamamoto noted that several factors could lead to further gains in years ahead.
Among these, middle-school-level science credit requirements will increase to two credits from the current one, effective in the 2006-07 school year. The Department of Education also will implement a streamlined new version of its academic content and performance standards expected to help teachers improve instruction.
"It is encouraging to note Hawaii's forward progress on the NAEP science testing. At the same time, we recognize that we are faced with a lot of catching up, and we are hopeful that our gains will increase as several science initiatives take effect in the next few years," Hamamoto said.
Of the 37 states that took NAEP's science test last year and in 2000, the last time it was given, only five improved their scores this time around in both fourth and eighth grade, including Hawaii.
"That's some of the best news we've seen in Hawaii in a while," said Hawaii's NAEP coordinator, Bob Hillier.
Average Hawaii scores for the two grades were both six points higher than in 2000. NAEP terms anything above a two-point increase to be statistically "significant."
The 2005 eighth-grade score, however, was just one point higher than the 1996 result. Fourth-graders did not take the test in 1996.
The test is equal parts life, earth and physical science. Forty-four states took it in 2005.
Nationally, the fourth-grade average rose to 149 from 145 in 2000. Eighth-grade results were gloomier. Average scores slipped to 147 from 148 in both 1996 and 2000. Twelfth-graders nationally averaged 147, up from 146 in 2000 but lower than the 1996 score of 150.
There is national concern about competitiveness in an increasingly technical world, said Darvin Winick, chairman of NAEP's governing board.
"The lackluster achievement of our older students in science, as in math and reading, appears to confirm those concerns," he said.
Hillier said Hawaii's improvements could be related to greater attention to instruction and curriculum as the DOE refines its standards-based education system and responds to heightened federal demands on achievement.
"I see teachers and administrators trying to better organize the curriculum and just working incredibly hard," he said.
The increased middle school science requirements will lead to "more focused instruction" at that level, said Jeff Piontek, the DOE's educational specialist for science.
He said the revised academic standards, which are grade level specific for the first time, along with corresponding "maps" spelling out the timing and order of what is to be taught, also will help teachers teach.
"The standards are, for lack of a better word, better," said Piontek, who came to Hawaii recently from a similar position in New York's public school system.
They are also "definitely more rigorous than New York's," he said.
The percentage of Hawaii fourth-graders at or above the "proficient" level was 19 percent (16 percent in 2000), compared with 27 percent nationally. Fifty-seven percent scored at or above "basic" (51 percent in 2000), compared with 66 percent nationally.
In the eighth grade, 15 percent were at or above proficient (14 percent in 2000), compared with 27 percent nationally. Forty-four percent were at or above basic (up from 40 percent in 2000), compared with 57 percent nationally.
The test was given to about 3,000 Hawaii students each in fourth and eighth grade.
Hawaii's performance on the National Assessment for Education Progress science test, with national results in parentheses. The test is given every four to five years to fourth-, eighth- and 12th-graders.*
Percentage of Hawaii students in various achievement levels.
|| Not tested
|| 135 (145)
|| 142 (149)
||AT OR ABOVE
||AT OR ABOVE
||AT OR ABOVE
|| 51 (61)
|| 57 (66)
Source: National Assessment of Educational Progress
|| 42 (60)
|| 40 (57)
|| 44 (57)
*State-by-state results are not available for the 12th grade.
Friday, May 26, 2006
» The average score for Hawaii eighth-graders on a national science test in 2000 was 130. A Page A1 chart Wednesday afternoon edition and on Page A7 in yesterday's morning edition incorrectly said the score was 30.