Thursday, May 25, 2006

New Jersey students outscored the national average on benchmark science exams in 2005 despite large gaps along race and class lines

Kathleen Carroll:

The exams, which measure knowledge in earth, physical and life sciences, were given to a random sample of more than 300,000 students nationwide. It was the first time New Jersey has participated in the national science exam.

Among New Jersey fourth-graders, 33 percent earned scores in the "proficient" or "advanced" categories, compared with 27 percent nationwide. The average test score was 154 compared with 149 nationwide, out of a possible 300.

Among local eighth-graders, 33 percent scored at "proficient" or "advanced" levels, compared with 27 percent nationwide. They earned an average score of 153 compared with 147 nationwide, out of a possible 300.

Statewide, boys earned higher scores than girls. Fourth-grade boys averaged 155, compared with 153 for girls. Eighth-grade boys averaged 157, compared with 150 for girls.

New Jersey's black and Latino students earned lower scores than their white and Asian peers.

On the fourth-grade test, 60 percent of black students earned "below basic" scores, compared with 49 percent of Latino students, 15 percent of white students and 14 percent of Asian students. On the eighth-grade test, 63 percent of black students earned "below basic" scores, compared with 61 percent of Latino students, 20 percent of white students and 17 percent of Asian students.

New Jersey students eligible for free or reduced-cost school lunches earned lower scores than their wealthier peers.

Among fourth-graders, 54 percent of poor students earned "below basic" scores, compared with 18 percent of students who do not qualify for the free lunch program. Among eighth-graders, 62 percent of poor students earned "below basic" scores, compared with 25 percent of wealthier students.

Mixed results for N.J. students in science test

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