Utah’s eighth grade science scores improved for white, Hispanic, Asian and Pacific Islander, and American Indian students as well as for students both eligible and not eligible for free or reduced-price lunch and for boys as well as girls, the NAEP reported. There were not enough black students included in the NAEP sampling of 2,400 Utah students to determine academic progress. The overall percentage of Utah students who are at or above basic levels in eighth grade science rose from 72 percent in 2009 to 77 percent in 2011.
“This is really terrific news for Utah’s public schools,” said State Superintendent of Public Instruction Larry K. Shumway. “It’s twice as nice to know that not only did our scores rise faster than the nation as a whole, but they rose across the board.”
Nationally, science scores rose from 149 to 151 between 2009 and 2011, NAEP reported, while in Utah scores went from 158 to 161. In 2011, North Dakota led the nation with an average score of 164, Montana and Vermont each had an average score of 163 and New Hampshire and South Dakota posted scores of 162. Utah, Colorado, Massachusetts, and Minnesota each posted average scores of 161. Arizona and Nevada (144), Louisiana (143), Hawaii (142), Alabama and California (140), Mississippi (137), and the District of Columbia (112) were the bottom performing states.