Delaware: Stuck in the Middle of the Pack

February 1st, 2011

Category: News

Delaware students scored in the middle of the pack compared to their peers in other states on the 2009 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) science exams, according to results released last week.

According to the results, 34 and 25 percent of fourth and eighth grade students demonstrated proficient or advanced skills on the exam, respectively.  These results place our fourth graders slightly above the national average of 34 percent (average scaled score of 153 vs. 149) in fourth grade and slightly behind the national average of 30 percent in eighth grade (average scaled score of 148 vs. 149)*.

The data, when broken down by subgroup, shows significant achievement gaps for our African-American, Hispanic, and low-income students.  According to the results:    

  • 50 percent of 4th grade white students scored at or above proficient, compared to 11 percent of African-American and 20 percent of Hispanic students;
  • 43 percent of 8th grade white students scored at or above proficient, compared to 8 percent of African-American and 12 percent of Hispanic students;
  • Low-income 4th grade students had average scaled scores of 138, which is 26 points below their more affluent peers; and
  • Low-income 8th grade students had average scaled scores of 135, which is 21 points below their more affluent peers. 

While disappointing, the scores show Delaware with smaller achievement gaps compared to the national average, which should be commended.

These results follow both a comparative study and the recently released PISA results, which showed the United States posting average scores compared to our international peers. 

Delaware, however, is not standing by idly.  Through Race to the Top, we are creating a STEM Residency, which will recruit and place highly-qualified science teachers throughout our highest-needs schools to ensure that these students are given the rigorous instruction necessary to perform at the highest levels.      

*Achievement trends in the data are unavailable since the exam was altered this year to better reflect the expectations of students in this area. 

Brett Turner



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