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N.H. students tested scored low in science

Associated Press / September 19, 2008
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CONCORD, N.H. - New tests suggest that most middle and high school students tested in New Hampshire and about half of the fourth-graders do not do well in science.

Results of the first New England Common Assessment Program science test for students in grades 4, 8, and 11 last spring, were released yesterday.

Fifty-one percent of fourth-graders scored as proficient or better. Among last spring's eighth-graders, 26 percent scored proficient. Twenty-two percent of the 11th-graders achieved that level.

Education Commissioner Lyonel Tracy said the goal is to focus less on what facts and figures students can remember and more on how they can use their understanding of science concepts.

He said that the test is only one measure of academic progress and that no single annual test is enough to measure overall student success.

"This year's results are baseline information and will help schools and districts to update and improve their science curriculum and instruction," he said.

The test was administered as part of the federal No Child Left Behind Act, which requires that states measure the achievement each year of all students in grades 3 through 8 and in one grade in high school.

In Massachusetts this week, results showed the percentage of sophomores who passed a state exam on the first try declined this year for the first time because thousands of students failed the science section, a new graduation requirement.

Reading and math assessments have been required in New Hampshire since 2005. Science was required last year.

Scoring at the level of proficient or proficient with distinction indicates a student has at a level necessary to become scientifically literate by the end of high school, the state said. Partially proficient or substantially below proficient suggests more instruction and support are needed.

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