Report: Vt. fourth-graders slipping in science
MONTPELIER — Fourth-graders are falling behind in science, according to a report released Thursday by the state Agency of Education.
The agency released scores from the science section of the New England Common Assessment Program, which was administered in May to students in grades 4, 8 and 11.
Students were scored on a scale of one to four, with a score of three indicating the student is proficient in science. According to the report, 47 percent of fourth graders were proficient or better, a six-point drop compared to scores in 2012.
However, Vermont was not alone in seeing falling scores for fourth-graders. New Hampshire and Rhode Island, which also use the NECAP to measure their students’ proficiency, both saw large drops in their fourth-graders’ scores.
Michael Hock, director of educational assessment for the Vermont agency, pointed to a specific portion of the science test that appears to have been particularly difficult.
“The inquiry section requires students to apply the scientific processes to a real-life, hands-on investigation,” Hock said. “Students also need to use the language of science to report their findings and conclusions. The agency will continue to encourage an inquiry approach to teaching science in the classroom, with special emphasis on how science instruction needs to interact with English language arts.”
The results indicate some schools are better at teaching science, or at least better at preparing their students for the test. At Woodstock Elementary, 75 percent of fourth-graders were proficient or better. Sixty-nine percent of fourth-graders at Thatcher Brook Primary in Waterbury scored proficient or better.
Rutland Town fourth-graders did twice as well as those in Rutland City. Sixty-one percent of Rutland Town School’s fourth graders were proficient or better, compared to 26 percent at the city’s Rutland Intermediate School.
Like Rutland, students in Barre Town scored higher than those in the city, but both scored lower than the state average. Forty percent of fourth-graders at Barre Town Elementary were proficient or better, compared to 31 percent of Barre City Elementary students.
Montpelier students scored better than those in East Montpelier, with 47 percent of Union Elementary fourth-graders scoring proficient or better, compared to 42 percent at East Montpelier Elementary.
Scores for 11th-graders also dropped across the state, though not nearly as dramatically as the fourth-graders. Thirty-one percent of 11th-graders scored proficient or better, a 2-point drop compared to 2012.
In Rutland County, scores ranged from a high of 33 percent at Proctor Junior-Senior High School to a low of 12 percent of 11th-graders scoring proficient or better at Poultney High School.
Rutland High School’s 11th-graders came in at the statewide average of 31 percent.
Montpelier High School’s 11th-graders scored higher than those at U-32 in East Montpelier, with 53 percent of MHS students scoring proficient or better, compared to 36 percent at U-32.
On a positive note, relatively speaking, 32 percent of the state’s eighth-grade students scored proficient or better, a 2-percent improvement compared to 2012. In Rutland, 38 percent of eighth-graders at Rutland Town School were proficient or better, compared to 20 percent of eighth graders at Rutland Middle School.
Barre Town’s eighth-graders scored slightly better than those in Barre City, 21 percent versus 19 percent. Forty percent of U-32’s eighth-graders were proficient or better, compared to 35 percent at Main Street Middle School in Montpelier.
For the complete report, visit http://goo.gl/XduiGd.
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