Arizona Leads the Nation in Fourth Grade Growth on NAEP Science Assessment

(Phoenix, Ariz., Oct. 27, 2016) – Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction Diane Douglas today announced that from 2009 to 2015 Arizona’s fourth graders led the nation in growth on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) Science test. Science scores for eighth grade students also increased significantly over the same time period.

“This is an incredible accomplishment for our students and their hardworking teachers,” said Superintendent Douglas. “While our state still has room to grow, these scores show that we are on the right track. I am also pleased that this progress has been made without sweeping changes to our science standards, which we now have the opportunity to build upon and improve.”

The average score for Arizona fourth graders increased by 11 points between 2009 and 2015 while the eighth grade average increased by seven. Of the seven states that showed the most dramatic growth over the same time period, none had adopted the national Next Generation Science Standards before the 2015 NAEP administration.

The Arizona Department of Education (ADE) recently opened the review process for the state’s Science standards, which were last updated in 2005. The public comment period on the standards is available through Dec. 3 and feedback can be submitted on ADE’s public feedback page.

Arizona also emerged as a leader in closing the achievement gap between white and Hispanic students, with Hispanic eighth graders making an 11 point gain and the gap shrinking significantly by six points. Additionally, no gender gap was present in either the fourth or eighth grade 2015 Science results.

“Supporting the success of all students is my top priority, so it is very encouraging to see that some of our state’s achievement gaps are narrowing,” said the Superintendent. “I will continue working with our schools and communities to ensure they have the resources necessary to make further progress in these efforts.”

Arizona is still scoring lower than the national average in both fourth and eighth grade, but has made significant progress toward matching the nation’s average performance.

The average NAEP Science score for Arizona fourth grade students was 149, while the average for the nation’s public schools was 153. For Arizona eighth graders, the average score was 148 compared to a national average of 153.

NAEP is designed to inform the public about the academic achievement of elementary and secondary students in the United States. The full report of the 2015 NAEP Science Results is available at https://www.nagb.org/.

2009 vs. 2015 NAEP Average Scale Scores

4th Grade Science Arizona National
2009 138*^ 149
2015 149^ 153
8th Grade Science Arizona National
2009 141*^ 149
2011 144*^ 151
2015 148^ 153

*Statistically significant from AZ 2015 at p < .05
^Statistically significant from National scores at p < .05


2009 vs. 2015 NAEP Average Scale Scores – Arizona Demographic Breakdowns

4th Grade Science White Hispanic Native American Black
2009 155* 124* 123 129
2015 166 137 128 139
8th Grade Science White Hispanic Native American Black
2009 157* 127* 126 126
2011 158 132 129 128
2015 162 138 130 131

*Statistically significant from AZ 2015 at p < .05