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Montana Eighth graders earn high scores on National Science Assessment

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HELENA -Montana students exceeded the national average on an assessment of eighth grade science, outscoring the nation by 12 points. For the second cycle in a row, Montana scored among the top three states, scoring only one point less than the top state.

The National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), also called “The Nation’s Report Card,” details the continued achievement of Montana eighth-graders on tests administered by the U.S. Department of Education in January and February of 2011.

“The fields of science, medicine and technology are growing in our 21st century economy, and we need to make sure our students have the necessary skills to step into those opportunities,” said Superintendent of Public Instruction Denise Juneau. “These scores demonstrate that our teachers are preparing students for the jobs of today and tomorrow.”

The NAEP science assessment was updated in 2009 to stay current with key developments in science, curriculum standards, assessments and research. It is organized into three content areas: physical science, life science and earth and space science. The updated test also includes essay and word problems as well as multiple choice questions.

The report shows that eighth-graders in Montana scored 163 on average, compared to the national average score of 151.

The NAEP results also show low-income students in Montana scored at or above the national average. Montana students eligible for free or reduced lunch scored 16 points higher than students eligible for free or reduced lunch nationally in eighth grade.

“These results are something we can all be proud of. Montana schools are making significant progress in closing the achievement gap,” said Juneau.

The Nation’s Report Card: Science 2011 and additional data collected from the 2011 science assessment are available online at

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