South Carolina 8th-graders show significant improvement on national science exam
South Carolina eighth- graders showed significant improvement on a national science exam in 2011, and their performance boosted the state’s ranking three spots to No. 36, according to results released Thursday by the U.S. Department of Education.
Students’ scores on the National Assessment of Educational Progress shot up six points to 149 on the 300-point scale, but they fell short of the national average of 151. The state’s change in science scores was noted as statistically significant.
Scores also are reported as percentages in achievement levels of “below basic,” “basic,” proficient” and “advanced.” Sixty-one percent of the state’s eighth-graders scored at or above “basic,” up from 55 percent in 2009.
State Superintendent of Education Mick Zais pointed out that the state still ranked in the bottom one-third of the country, and he re-emphasized his call to change the state’s education system so it is more personalized, customized and gives families more choices.
He highlighted the recently passed charter school legislation as a way to strengthen those options, and he said he hopes it spurs the creation of new charter schools, such as Charleston County’s Charleston Charter School for Math & Science.
“We must change the culture of the education system to one that puts the interests of students first,” he said in a statement.
He asked state lawmakers to continue deregulating schools, rewarding effective teachers and simplifying the state’s accountability system so it’s transparent and easily understood.
The NAEP, also known as the nation’s report card, is the only exam that allows states to compare elementary and middle students’ academic performance in multiple subjects.
The 2011 results marked the first time all 50 states participated in the science test — South Carolina ranked 39 out of the 46 participating states in 2009 — and no state saw a decline in scores.
Reach Diette Courrégé at @Diette on Twitter or 937-5546.