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Fourth Graders Make Gains on NAEP Science Test; Eighth Graders' Scores Hold Steady, but Twelfth Graders' Scores Decline

Science achievement scores released last week in the National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP) show improvement among fourth-grade students in science, but scores for eighth-grade students remain flat and twelfth-grade students decline. Considered the “Nation’s Report Card,” NAEP released the latest science performance scores of students at grades 4, 8, and 12. The test was administered in early 2005 by the Department of Education to more than 300,000 students across the nation and on military bases around the world.

According to the NAEP study, fourth-grade students’ achievement scores rose four percentage points since the last assessment in 2000. There were also large gains in the number of students moving into the Basic performance level, and minority students—particularly blacks and Hispanics—made impressive increases.

The scores for eighth-grade students have remained flat since 1996 with students losing ground in the physical science area, and most gaps between minority and white students remain unchanged. The achievement scores of twelfth-grade students declined three percentage points since the 1996 assessment. No significant changes in the scores were reported by racial/ethnic groups since 1996, and there was a significant widening of the gap between whites and blacks.

NSTA issued a press release responding to the NAEP report. President Mike Padilla was quoted in numerous news stories. To read the NSTA Reports Online Exclusive article on the NAEP report, visit
http://www.nsta.org/main/news/stories/nsta_story.php?news_story_ID=52083; to read the NSTA press release, go to http://www.nsta.org/pressroom&news_story_ID=52084; to read news articles from the New York Times and The Washington Post, visit http://www.nytimes.com/2006/05/25/education/25exam.html?_r=1&th&emc=th&oref=slogin, and http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/05/27/AR2006052700847.html.

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Science Education Champions in Congress Introduce Bill to Include Science in AYP

On May 23, Representative Vernon Ehlers (R-MI) introduced the Science Accountability Act (H.R. 5442) in the U.S. House of Representatives. The bill would amend No Child Left Behind (NCLB) to ensure that science would be counted in the state’s accountability system, Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP), starting in the 2008-09 school year.

Currently under NCLB, states and schools are required to annually assess math and reading every year in grades 3-8 and include the assessment results as part of AYP. Beginning in 2007-2008, states and districts must administer science assessments one time in each of the following grades: 3-5, 6-9, and 10-12. They are not required to include science assessments as part of the formula for determining AYP.

The bill, which is co-sponsored by Reps. Rush Holt (D-NJ), Judy Biggert (R-IL), and Sherwood Boehlert (R-NY), would also phase in annual science assessments for students in grades 3-8 beginning in 2009-2010, thereby matching the current assessment requirements for reading and math.

It is anticipated that no action will be taken on the Science Accountability Act until Congress begins work to reauthorize NCLB sometime next year. To read more about the legislation, visit http://science.nsta.org/nstaexpress/Science Accountability Act.pdf. To read the Dear Colleague letter for your congressional representative, visit http://science.nsta.org/nstaexpress/AYP DC.pdf.

Should science assessment results be included in AYP? Tell us what you think at http://science.nsta.org/survey_science_assessment_in_ayp.

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Put an NSTA Conference on Your Fall Calendar—Omaha, Baltimore, or Salt Lake City—and Set Funding Wheels in Motion NOW!

If you only plan to attend one educational conference this school year, make it an NSTA event. Our fall Conferences in Omaha (Pioneers in Science, October 19-21), Baltimore (Planting the Seeds of Success, November 2-4), and Salt Lake City (Natural Bridges to Science, December 7-9) are taking final shapeand you won’t want to miss these great opportunities for new professional development and renewal, networking, and exploration. Among the special ticketed pre-Conference events to consider in your early planning:

  • Science at the Center to Promote Reading Success, a daylong “Professional Learning Institute” of sessions for elementary educators to enhance teaching and student performance in science and reading (Omaha, October 18);

  • Science and English Language Learners Research Dissemination Conference, featuring research, practical approaches, and policy directions for classroom teachers, school and district administrators, and university teacher educators (Baltimore, November 1);

  • NSTA Professional Development Institutes to help professional development providers learn how to develop workshops on physical science, about the “coaching” model of Professional Development, and how to build a support infrastructure for implementation of Reform-based curriculum (Salt Lake City, December 6).

Online registration will soon be available to bring you all the details, events, and sessions. To be part of our special Fall ’06 Conference VIP list, just visit http://science.nsta.org/vipresponse, add your name and e-mail address, and we’ll let you know the minute our detailed programs, events, and Personal Scheduler are ready. Meanwhile, start your funding request process before school ends. We can’t wait to see you this fall!

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Ecological Invaders and How Scientists Fight Back is Subject of June Online NSTA Press Book Special: Cornell Series’ Invasion Ecology

Strange intruders are invading our part of the world, threatening our environment and our economy. The Teacher Edition of Invasion Ecology, one of the Cornell Scientific Inquiry Series titles from NSTA Press, is our June online book special. Available at 30% off list price starting Thursday and through the end of June—for online orders only—the book includes the full Student Edition. To browse the book and to order, visit http://www.nsta.org/onlinespecial. (Copies of the separate Student Edition are available at regular price and at quantity discounts at http://store.nsta.org/searchBasic.asp.)

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And Don't Forget... 

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Professional development courses in your future?
Online options give you a world of choice.
Take a look at these institutions offering courses for science educators!

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