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Hispanic Students Narrow Science Achievement Gap on NAEP Exam

By Katherine Leal Unmuth
Latino Ed Beat

The achievement gap between Latino and white eighth-graders in science is narrowing, according to National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) data released on Thursday.

Between 2009 and 2011, average science scores among Hispanic students increased by five points, compared with a three-point increase for black students and one point increase for white students.

A proficient score is a 170 out of a 300-point scale. Hispanic students’ scores grew to 137, compared with an average 163 for white students and 129 for black students. The average score for English language learners was 106. While the improvement is a bright spot, American students still struggle with science. Only about 32 percent of students scored “proficient” or higher on exams.

The interim head of the National Science Teachers Association, Gerry Wheeler, called the gains “miniscule,” the Associated Press reported. ”When you consider the importance of being scientifically literate in today’s global economy, these scores are simply unacceptable,” Wheeler said.

The exam, known as “the nation’s report card,” is based on a sample of 122,000 eighth-graders from across the country.

Read the full report here. Some states performed better with Latinos than others. Florida, with an average score for Latino students of 144, and Texas, with 146, performed better than the national average. California, with an average of 128, and Arizona, with 132, were below the national average.

You can delve into state-level data here.

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