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Mississippi Ranks Among Top in the Nation for Science Gains on National Assessment of Educational Progress

October 27, 2016

JACKSON, Miss. – Mississippi showed significant increases in 4th and 8th grade science on the 2015 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), which ranks the state No. 4 in the nation for growth in both grades since 2009.

Mississippi is one of 18 states that showed significant score gain in 4th grade science from 2009 to 2015. For 8th grade science, Mississippi is one of 24 states that showed significant score gain from 2009 to 2015.

“Our students’ growth in science is consistent with their achievements in NAEP reading and math,” said Dr. Carey Wright, state superintendent of education. “We are leading the nation for student growth because of our schools’ commitment to high academic standards and the hard work of students, teachers and school leaders.”

Mississippi was the only state in the nation to show significant gains in 2015 for NAEP 4th grade reading and math.

Statewide, 4th grade NAEP science proficiency increased from 17 percent in 2009 to 23 percent in 2015, which ranks Mississippi No. 12 in the nation for growth of students proficient and above.  

In 8th grade, science proficiency increased from 15 percent in 2009 to 20 percent in 2015, which ranks Mississippi No. 13 in the nation for growth of students proficient and above.  

 Grade 4 Science Gains Since 2009

Grade 8 Science Gains Since 2009

Mississippi is tied for No. 2 in the nation for significant gains on NAEP tests in reading, math and science. Though test scores are increasing, Mississippi remains in the bottom tier for each tested subject and grade. In addition, the achievement gap that exists between African-American and white students and economically disadvantaged students and their more advantaged peers remains in Mississippi as it does in the nation as a whole.

“Closing achievement gaps is a major priority nationally and in Mississippi,” said Dr. Kim Benton, chief academic officer for the MDE. “All students are capable of high achievement in reading, math and science.”

Mississippi is one of 46 states that volunteered to participate in the NAEP assessment for science. Tests were administered to a statewide sample of students in grades 4, 8 and 12. NAEP reports 12th grade scores at the national level only. While scores rose for 4th and 8th graders across the nation, 12th grade scores remained flat.

Mississippi is in the process of revising science standards for grades K-8 and high school so that students are equipped for career opportunities in the growing field of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). The MDE has been working with a team of Mississippi science teachers from across the state and the Research and Curriculum Unit at Mississippi State University for more than a year to update the standards, which will be released for public review and comment in early 2017.

The MDE has expanded Advanced Placement and ACT prep trainings across the state to increase learning opportunities for students interested in STEM-related fields. In addition, the MDE has been working to expand programs in engineering, robotics, health science, biomedical engineering and integrated production technology in high-tech manufacturing in response to business and industry needs.

“NAEP national results show that high school students who take at least three sciences – Biology, Chemistry and Physics – perform better on the NAEP science assessment,” Benton said. “Students need to be guided toward courses that will expand their career opportunities after high school.”

Learn more about the 2015 NAEP Science results here.

Media Contact: 
Patrice Guilfoyle, APR
Director of Communications

Jean Cook, APR
Communications Specialist