National Content Area Scores
The NAEP science assessment comprises three content areas: Physical Science, Life Science, and Earth and Space Sciences. In addition to an overall average science score at each grade, NAEP science results are also reported as subscale average scores for each of the three content areas. Because the subscales were developed separately for each content area, comparisons cannot be made from one subscale to another.
Scores by Content Area
Lower average scores for fourth-grade students in two of the three science content areas compared to 2015
In 2019, the average Life Science score was lower by 4 points and the average Earth and Space Sciences score was lower by 2 points compared to 2015. In comparison to 2009, the average score in Physical Science was 3 points higher in 2019 and the average score in Earth and Space Sciences was 2 points higher.
Scroll down to explore science content area scores by percentiles.
Percentile Scores by Content Area
Scores decline for lower-performing fourth-grade students in all three science content areas compared to 2015
NAEP scores are reported at five selected percentiles to show the progress made by lower-performing (10th and 25th percentiles), middle-performing (50th percentile), and higher-performing (75th and 90th percentiles) students.
In 2019, students at the 10th and 25th percentiles scored lower in Physical Science compared to 2015; students at the 10th, 25th, 50th, and 75th percentiles scored lower in Life Science; and students at the 10th, 25th, and 50th percentiles scored lower in Earth and Space Sciences.
In comparison to 2009, there were significant changes in average science content area scores in 2019 for fourth-graders, including the following:
- scores were higher in Physical Science for students at the 50th, 75th, and 90th percentiles;
- scores were lower in Life Science for students at the 10th and 25th percentiles; and
- scores were higher in Earth and Space Sciences for students at the 25th, 50th, 75th, and 90th percentiles.
Scroll down to explore content area scores by student groups below.
Content Area Scores by Student Group
In 2019, average scores decreased for most reported student groups in Life Science and for many reported student groups in Earth and Space Sciences compared to 2015, while average Physical Science scores did not significantly change for most student groups. For example, in 2019, the average score in Life Science was lower than in 2015 for the following student groups:
- White, Black, and Hispanic students;
- male and female students;
- students eligible and those not eligible for the National School Lunch Program;
- students attending public school;
- students attending charter and public, noncharter schools;
- students attending schools in city, suburban, town, and rural locations;
- students attending schools in the Northeast, Midwest, and South regions of the country;
- students identified and those not identified as students with disabilities; and
- students identified and those not identified as English learners.
Dig deeper into the results for the science content areas
Use the drop-down menus to select a science content area and student groups to explore the average score and score gap results, by content area, for the selected student groups by race/ethnicity, gender, eligibility for the National School Lunch Program, type of school, attendance at a charter school, school location, region of the country, status as students with disabilities, and status as English learners.