Tennessee makes big jump in science student tests

Gov. Haslam announces expansion of Chattanooga Seating Systems
Gov. Haslam announces expansion of Chattanooga Seating Systems

NASHVILLE (WDEF) – Governor Bill Haslam says the latest Nation’s Report Card found Tennessee students making the biggest leap in science scores.

The 2015 NAEP results show Tennessee is the only state to grow faster than the national average in both 4th and 8th graders who were tested.

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Tennessee has now cracked the Top 20 in the nation in science for the first time, ranking 19th for 4th grade tests.

“We couldn’t be prouder of today’s news. When you think of what’s important to the future of Tennessee, having our students double the national average growth in science is incredibly powerful. Not only that, but every single student group in Tennessee improved. We narrowed what we call our achievement gaps and completely eliminated the gender gap,” Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam said. “We are on a long journey. We’ve done the hard work of raising expectations, investing more in education and letting our teachers and students show us what they can do, and again and again, our students and teachers are stepping up to the challenge.”

The Governor is taking a victory lap across Tennessee on Thursday visiting schools in Knoxville, Nashville and Memphis with Education Commissioner Candice McQueen and NASA astronaut Butch Wilmore.

“We’ve set high expectations across the board for our students in Tennessee, and our performance on the Nation’s Report Card continues to reflect the hard work and progress our students and teachers are making,” Tennessee Commissioner of Education Candice McQueen, said. “To me, the most encouraging part of today’s science results is that all of Tennessee’s students are showing what is possible. We’ve narrowed or eliminated gaps between groups of students, and we are continuing to make huge strides with all students.”

 Tennessee is the only state to grow faster than the nation in both fourth and eighth grade science.
 Tennessee eighth graders were the fastest improving in the nation.
 Tennessee fourth graders were the second fastest improving in the nation.
 Tennessee students doubled the average national growth across states in both fourth and eighth grade science, launching Tennessee into the top half of all the states.
 Tennessee now ranks 19th and 21st in the country in fourth and eighth grade science, respectively. These are the highest rankings Tennessee has ever had on the Nation’s Report Card.
 Tennessee students narrowed or eliminated nearly every achievement gap:
o In both fourth and eighth grade science, the gap in achievement scores between white and African-American students narrowed.
o The gap tightened between white and Latino students in fourth grade.
o The gap between male and female students was completely eliminated in both grades.

Full results for the nation and states are available online at nationsreportcard.gov.

State Collaborative on Reforming Education (SCORE) CEO Jamie Woodson released this statement on the scores:

Tennessee can take real pride in the state science grades on the Nation’s Report Card, which mark the first time that the state has scored in the top 20 in any subject on the assessment. Tennessee fourth-graders and eighth-graders not only grew faster than the nation as a whole, their gains were double the national pace.
NAEP is a yardstick for measuring Tennessee academic performance over time and in comparison to other states. Since the state began raising expectations, strengthening teaching, and emphasizing postsecondary education and workforce readiness for all students, Tennessee academic growth has been fast and sustained in multiple subjects over multiple years. Although proficiency levels are not yet as high as we know our students are capable of achieving, Tennessee’s trend is decidedly in the right direction.
The NAEP science results indicate that the work by teachers, school and district leaders, and parents is putting more Tennessee students on track for the future. The Center on Education and the Workforce at Georgetown University projects Tennessee will have more than 280,000 health, science, technology, and engineering jobs by 2020. What matters most is not how well Tennessee students scored on a science test this year but whether they are well prepared to take advantage of those kinds of opportunities.