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For Immediate Release: May 10, 2012
Contact: Mary Stadick Smith - (605) 773-7228

Science scores still near top, though relatively unchanged

South Dakota eighth-grade students are ahead of their peers when it comes to the latest science scores – which are good, but virtually unchanged – as measured by the 2011 National Assessment of Educational Progress.

“There are some very good things happening,” said South Dakota Secretary of Education Melody Schopp. “Our students continue to perform well, but we can’t get complacent and allow ourselves to rest on our laurels.”

The assessment results, released earlier today, show that just one state – North Dakota – scored significantly higher than South Dakota’s average scale score of 162. Eight states – including Minnesota, Montana, Massachusetts and Colorado – scored statistically the same as South Dakota.

Scores are based on a 300-point scale, and this is only the second time the current science framework has been assessed.

When the NAEP science test was last administered in 2009, North Dakota was again at the top, but South Dakota was matched in scoring by only five states.

The national average is 151, a slight improvement from 149 in 2009. South Dakota’s average score is up one point, although the differential is defined as not being statistically significant.

The scores of South Dakota’s Hispanic students improved significantly, making a 16-point jump in just two years. And 65 percent of South Dakota’s students eligible for free and reduced-price lunches scored at or above basic, compared to just 48 percent nationally.

South Dakota’s gender gap in science remains. A significant gap also exists at the national level, with boys continuing to outperform their female counterparts in the area of science.