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About the Science Assessment

The National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) 2009 science assessment was designed to measure students' knowledge of three broad content areas: physical science, life science, and Earth and space sciences. The assessment design was guided by a new science framework in 2009 that replaced the one used for earlier NAEP science assessments (1996, 2000, and 2005). The 2009 framework for the science assessment was updated to keep assessment content current with key developments in science, curriculum standards, assessments, and research. Because of the changes, the results from 2009 cannot be compared to those from previous years; however, they provide a current snapshot of what the nation's fourth-, eighth-, and twelfth-graders know and can do in science and will serve as the basis for comparisons on future science assessments.

The science assessment was developed and reviewed by a committee of science and measurement experts to capture the goals of the science framework. The National Assessment Governing Board, which oversees the development of NAEP frameworks, incorporated the expertise of many individuals involved in science and science education when developing the current science framework.

Results from the 2009 assessment are reported for both the nation and states at grades 4 and 8 and for the nation only at grade 12. At the national level, results are presented for students in public and non-public schools, while state results are for public school students only.

The series of tables on the student population and sample, school and student participation rates, and inclusion of students with disabilities and English language learners provide context for interpreting the results of the assessment. Read the NAEP inclusion policy to learn more about NAEP accommodations and the history of the policy.

Learn more about procedures used as part of the 2009 science assessment:

Trial Urban District Assessment (TUDA) in Science

Representative samples of between 900 and 2,200 fourth- and eighth-grade public school students from 17 urban districts participated in the 2009 science assessment. The participating districts are listed below.

Atlanta Public Schools
Austin Independent School District
Baltimore City Public Schools
Boston Public Schools
Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools
Chicago Public Schools
Cleveland Metropolitan School District
Detroit Public Schools
Fresno Unified School District

Houston Independent School District
Jefferson County Public Schools (Louisville, KY)
Los Angeles Unified School District
Miami-Dade County Public Schools
Milwaukee Public Schools
New York City Department of Education
School District of Philadelphia
San Diego Unified School District

The District of Columbia public schools (DCPS) that participated in the reading and mathematics TUDAs were unable to participate in the 2009 science assessment because the samples for the mandatory reading and mathematics assessments took up most of their student populations. Only a few schools in the District of Columbia participated in the science assessment at each grade to provide data for the national sample in science.

Just as the national public sample is used as a benchmark for comparing results for states, results for urban districts are compared to results from large cities nationwide. Results for large cities are for public schools located in the urbanized areas of cities with populations of 250,000 or more. Large city is not synonymous with "inner city." Schools in participating TUDA districts are also included in the results for large cities, even though some districts (Atlanta, Austin, Charlotte, Cleveland, Fresno, Houston, Jefferson County, Los Angeles, and Miami-Dade) include some schools not classified as large city schools.