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Susanne Smith, 503-947-5637

January 25, 2011

Superintendent Castillo Praises Oregon Student Performance on National Science Assessment

Oregon 4th and 8th Graders above U.S. Average

SALEM - State Schools Superintendent Susan Castillo announced today the release of Oregon's results for the 2009 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) science assessment. Also known as the Nation's Report Card, the test was administered to a representative sample of Oregon fourth and eighth graders in late January to early March 2009.

"NAEP is an important tool to measure student achievement and I’m encouraged to see Oregon’s strong performance,” said Superintendent of Public Instruction Susan Castillo. “It is critical that we move forward with a solid inquiry-based science program and increased science graduation requirements. We’ve updated our science standards with a focus on STEM to reflect a modern-day workforce founded in these core subjects.”

The 2009 NAEP results indicate Oregon’s fourth graders scored an average of 151, higher than the average score of 149 for public school students in the nation.* Oregon joins 23 other states and jurisdictions that have fourth grade science results higher than the national average. Click here to see a state snapshot.

Oregon eighth graders scored an average of 154, higher than the national average of 149 for public school students in the nation*. This places Oregon with 24 other states and jurisdictions that have eighth grade science results higher than the national average. Click here to see a state snapshot.

These science results cannot be compared to previous NAEP performance as the NAEP science assessment was updated in 2009 to keep the content current with key developments in science, curriculum standards, assessments, and research.

The performance of Oregon’s minority, special education and free and reduced lunch students were at or above the national average across all groups in both fourth and eighth grade. The performance of Oregon’s fourth and eighth grade students in poverty was particularly strong in relation to their national peers. Both groups had a performance gap that was lower than the national average. For fourth grade, the performance gap for students in poverty was 25 (national gap 29). Oregon eighth graders had a performance gap for students in poverty that was 24 points lower than students who were not considered in poverty (national gap 28).

“Our new science content standards align more closely with NAEP standards and have focused on scientific inquiry since 2003 with an emphasis on doing instead of memorizing,” said Castillo. “Our goal is that Oregon students acquire a deeper conceptual understanding of science and all its applications. Beginning in 2012, high school students will need three years of science including two years of laboratory experiences which can take place outside of school in field-based environments.”

The Oregon Department of Education has undertaken several initiatives to enhance science education in Oregon:

• New science standards: At the direction of the State Board of Education, in 2009 the Oregon Department of Education (ODE) updated science content standards that maintain an emphasis on inquiry based learning. The new standards will help students build a deeper knowledge base in scientific content knowledge and process skills. More information on the science standards are available at: http://www.ode.state.or.us/teachlearn/subjects/science/curriculum/2009_adopted_k-h_science_standards_updated(11.13).pdf PDF

• New science assessments: The Oregon Department of Education is currently in the process of aligning assessments to the updated science content standards. In July 2011, a stakeholder panel of educators, partners in higher education and industry as well as parents will assist ODE in establishing new achievement standards for the updated assessment. The new assessment will be operational by October, 2011. More information on science assessments is available at: http://www.ode.state.or.us/search/results/?id=240 Scientific inquiry and engineering design work sample resources are provided at: http://www.ode.state.or.us/search/page/?id=518

• New graduation requirements: Beginning in 2012, high school students will need three years of inquiry-based science including two years of laboratory experiences which can take place outside of school in field-based environments. Currently, students are required to complete 2 years of science.

• Professional development: ODE led a series of professional development workshops to provide an opportunity for Oregon teachers to become more familiar with the new science standards and research-based effective instructional strategies. ODE continues to provide workshops and support for implementation of the 2009 science standards at the request of ESDs, school districts, and other organizations. Electronic versions of the materials used in the professional development workshops are available on the ODE website at: http://www.ode.state.or.us/search/page/?=2978. ODE has awarded Moving Science Education Forward Implementation professional development grants and provides follow-up professional development workshops for the grant teams. ODE currently funds five Title IIB Math Science Partnership grants that are providing professional development for implementation of the science standards. Official work sample training materials are also available for professional developers. For more information go to: http://www.ode.state.or.us/search/page/?id=2696.

For audio clip of Susan Castillo, please visit: http://video.orvsd.org/ode/1-24-11-NAEP.MP3
To access the national 2009 NAEP science results, please visit: http://www.ode.state.or.us/search/page/?=40
To access a NAEP FAQ, please visit: http://www.ode.state.or.us/superintendent/priorities/naep-faq-science.pdf PDF
For background information on NAEP including governing policies and sample test items, go to: http://nagb.org/flash.htm

*NAEP science results are reported on a scale of 1 – 300.

Susan Castillo, State Superintendent of Public Instruction
Susanne Smith, Communications Director, Telephone (503) 947-5637

Oregon Department of Education News Releases contain information that was originally released to the press as an official release.  Refer to each News Release for the details.

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