Fewer than half of U.S. students are proficient in science, renewing questions about the country’s global competitiveness, the Education Department said today.
A third of the nation’s fourth graders, 30 percent of eighth-graders and 21 percent of twelfth-graders are performing at or above the proficient level in science, according to the 2009 National Assessment of Educational Progress. Known as the Nation’s Report Card, the government considers the test the most influential view of U.S. educational achievement. The science assessment was changed in 2009, so it can’t be compared with past results, the government said.
The results were released on the same day as President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address, which is expected to focus on the theme of competitiveness and include concerns about the nation’s lagging educational achievement. U.S. 15-year-olds ranked 25th among peers from 34 countries on a math test and scored in the middle in science and reading, while China’s Shanghai topped the charts on an international assessment released Dec. 7.
“The results released today show that our nation’s students aren’t learning at a rate that will maintain America’s role as an international leader in the science,” Education Secretary Arne Duncan said in an e-mailed statement. “When 1 or 2 percent of children score at the advanced levels on NAEP, the next generation will not be ready to be world-class inventors, doctors and engineers.”
The assessment was given to 156,500 fourth-graders, 151,100 eighth-graders and 11,100 twelfth-graders.
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