Florida’s Hispanic students played an integral part in boosting 8th grade test scores in a national science assessment. Gains made by Hispanic students on the Nation’s Report Card (NAEP) bolstered Florida’s overall scores.
Florida 8th graders showed significant improvement in science – an increase of 5 percent from 2009. That means 62 percent of students performed at or above the Basic level of understanding.
The three achievement levels – Basic, Proficient, Advanced – are based on performance standards that indicate what students should know and be able to do.
While Florida students scored three points lower overall than the national average, the percentage of Florida’s Hispanic students scoring at or above Basic or Proficient was significantly higher than their national counterparts.
Education Commissioner Gerard Robinson is happy to see the progress. “The improvement in science scores among Hispanic students is especially significant as we consider the growth of the Hispanic population in our state,” said Robinson. “As we work to ensure our students are prepared for high school, a career, and life, we know that science, technology, engineering and mathematics – STEM courses – play an important role in that preparation.”
Florida’s achievement gap between White and Hispanic students was significantly narrower than the nation’s average in Basic and Proficient levels. The percentage of Florida students eligible for the National School Lunch Program scoring at or above Proficient was significantly higher in 2011 with 18 percent of students, a five point jump.
Some scores changed very little from 2009, like these findings that show how race and socioeconomic status may impact learning:
- Black students had an average score that was 34 points lower than White students. This performance gap was not significantly different from that in 2009 (32 points).
- Hispanic students had an average score that was 17 points lower than White students. This performance gap was not significantly different from that in 2009 (19 points).
- Students who were eligible for free/reduced-price school lunch, an indicator of low family income, had an average score that was 24 points lower than students who were not eligible for free/reduced-price school lunch. This performance gap was not significantly different from that in 2009 (22 points).
The assessment is a key measure of how well the goal of scientific literacy for all students is being met. All 50 states, the District of Columbia, and the Department of Defense Education Activity schools participated in the 2011 Grade 8 science assessment.