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For Immediate Release: May 24, 2006
Contact: Mary Stadick Smith - (605) 773-7228

South Dakota fares well on national science test

South Dakota’s fourth- and eighth-grade students scored above the national average on the recently released National Assessment of Educational Progress science results. This was the first time that South Dakota took the science portion of the NAEP, which is commonly referred to as the “Nation’s Report Card.”

Students nationwide took the NAEP in early 2005. Administered to a random sample of approximately 3,000 students per grade in South Dakota, the test consists of both multiple-choice questions and constructed response exercises. It covers three major areas: Physical Science, Earth Science and Life Science. The scaled score range is 1 to 300.

South Dakota’s fourth-grade students earned a composite score of 158 on the NAEP science test, compared to the national average of 149. South Dakota’s 158 was the third-highest score in the nation, a score shared with three other states.

Eighth-grade students in South Dakota earned a composite score of 161, compared to the national average of 147. Again, South Dakota’s score of 161 was the third-highest score in the nation, an honor shared with one other state.

Male students at both grade levels scored slightly higher than female students. At the fourth-grade level, males scored 161 and females scored a 155. At the eighth-grade level, males scored 164 and females scored 158.

South Dakota’s Native American students scored the same as their counterparts nationally. However, their average at both grade levels was lower than the state average. At fourth-grade, the composite score for Native American students was 135. At the eighth-grade level, it was 133.

“While we are pleased to know that our students stack up well against their peers around the nation, we do have some work to do,” said Dr. Rick Melmer, secretary of the South Dakota Department of Education. “Efforts such as the 2010 Education Initiative, which calls for more rigorous graduation requirements, senior projects, mandatory attendance to age 18 and a stronger emphasis on Native American education, should help us do that.


To view complete NAEP science results, visit