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About the Science Assessment

The National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) 2011 grade 8 science assessment was designed to measure students' knowledge of three broad content areas—physical science, life science, and Earth and space sciences. In addition, the assessment was designed to measure four science practices—identifying science principles, using science principles, using scientific inquiry, and using technological design. These four practices describe how students use their science knowledge by measuring what they are able to do with the science content. Find out more about what the assessment measures.

The National Assessment Governing Board oversees the development of NAEP frameworks that describe the specific knowledge and skills to be assessed in each subject. The science framework incorporates ideas and input from the science committee, which includes subject area experts, school administrators, policymakers, teachers, parents, and others. The 2011 Science Framework describes the types of questions to be included in the assessment and how they should be designed and scored. The 2009 and 2011 assessments were developed using the same framework, allowing the results from the two assessment years to be compared.

Results from the 2011 assessment are reported for both the nation and states. Results for the nation reflect the performance of students attending public schools, private schools, Bureau of Indian Education schools, and Department of Defense schools. Results for states and other jurisdictions reflect the performance of students in public schools only and are reported along with the results for public school students in the nation.

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.

The 2011 NAEP science assessment at grade 8 was a special administration to permit comparisons with the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS, a widely recognized international assessment. Historically, the NAEP science assessment occurs every four years, but the last science administration was in 2009. The National Assessment Governing Board added grade 8 science to the assessment schedule in 2011 to create an opportunity for studying the relationship between TIMSS and the NAEP mathematics (also administered in 2011) and science assessments. For the first time with the voluntary science assessment, all 50 states and the District of Columbia agreed to participate. In addition the Governing Board scheduled the next assessment of science at grades 4, 8, and 12 for 2015, which aligns with the TIMSS assessment schedule going forward.

Learn more about procedures used as part of the 2011 science assessment: