USA Fairs poorly AGAIN in NAEP | Jeff Piontek wants to know your thought as to why.

In 2011, the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) tested 122,000 eighth grade students in their knowledge of science according to the 2011 NAEP Science Framework. Students are tested in their knowledge of science and their ability to work problems in three science areas: physical science, life science, and the Earth and space sciences. The test covered 50 states, the District of Columbia and the Department of Defense schools. Students’ test scores placed them in one of four categories: Below Basic, Basic, Proficient, and Advanced. The terms Basic, Proficient, and Advanced are defined as:

  • Basic denotes partial mastery of prerequisite knowledge and skills that are fundamental for proficient work at each grade.
  • Proficient represents solid academic performance. Students reaching this level have demonstrated competency over challenging subject matter.
  • Advanced represents superior performance.

While the national report card for eighth graders does show improvement, the results of the sample suggests that the nation as a whole has more students in the Below Basic category than any other:

  • Below Basic        36%
  • Basic                      34%
  • Proficient            29%
  • Advanced              2%

The achievement-level results in the eighth-grade NAEP science scores for the years 2009 and 2011 are:

  • At or above Basic went from 63% to 65%
  • At or above Proficient went from 30% to 32%
  • The number of students in Advanced stayed the same each year.

Here are some sample questions by science content area and difficulty level for grade eight students:


Physical Science

  • Describe the energy transfer between two systems
  • Read a motion graph

Earth and Space Sciences

  • Draw a conclusion based on fossil evidence
  • Predict a geological consequence of tectonic plate movement
  • Identify the mechanisms of a weather pattern

Life Science

  • Recognize a factor that affects the success of a species
  • Predict the effect of an environmental change on an organism
  • Explain an experimental setup to study populations of organisms
  • Recognize how plants use sunlight

Physical Science

  • Identify an example of kinetic energy


Earth and Space Sciences

  • Explain the effects of human land use on wildlife
  • Predict a lunar phenomenon
  • Relate characteristics of air masses to global regions
  • Identify a source of energy for the Earth’s water cycle
  • Predict the long-term pattern in the volcanic activity of a region
  • Investigate the magnetic properties of some common objects

Physical Sciences

  • Select and explain the useful properties of a material used in an industrial process
  • Identify the atomic components of the molecule
  • Determine a controlled variable in a chemistry investigation
  • Recognize an effect of electrical forces

Life Sciences

  • Identify the main sources of energy for certain organisms
  • Select and explain graph types and draw graphs from data that compare insect behaviors
  • recognize that plants produce their own food
  • Describe the competition between two species
  • Identify a function of a human organ system


Earth and Space Sciences

  • Predict and explain a weather pattern due to collision of air masses
  • Explain the formation of a rock based on its features
  • Draw a conclusion about soil permeability using data

Physical Science

  • Describe the evidence for chemical change
  • Identify chemically similar elements on the Periodic Table
  • Explain a change in energy due to friction

Life Sciences

  • Select and explain graph types and draw graphs from data that compare insect behaviors
  • Form a conclusion based on data about the behavior of an organism