Friday, October 21, 2005

NAEP NAEP!

I know I just wrote that I was shutting off my computer, but I got sucked back in by many bloggers' posts about the NAEP scores. I'm actually kind of fascinated by the 8th grade science data.

Here are some of their conclusions:
1. The performance gap between those eligible for a free lunch and those not eligible got wider since 2000. The rich scored higher and the poor scored lower, and both changes were statistically significant. Leave no child behind, indeed!

2. Girls still score slightly lower than boys, on average, and in middle school, boys' scores actually increased at a statistically significant level while girls' scores remained more-or-less the same. Another gap widened.

3. What the heck happened to Native American middle schoolers' science education in the past few years? Seriously, does anyone have an explanation for the drastic drop in their scores?

4. In middle school, students scored higher if their teacher majored in science education. I think it's interesting that a science major, as opposed to science education, was not one of the choices. I wonder how children fare whose teachers were undergraduate science majors and got their ed units later?

5. In 8th grade, students scored higher if they had the opportunity to use computers for data analysis and simulations and models, but did not do better if they used computers for drill & practice or to play learning games. It's all about actively engaging with authentic experiences, people.

6. In elementary school, the more often children worked with other students during science class, the better they scored. In middle school, students scored best if they worked with other children on a weekly, but not necessarily daily, basis. Take that, chalk-and-talk!

7. Regularly using computers to collect and analyze data improves scores, while using the internet to exchange information does not. Are the results for these "context of learning" questions separated out in any way from kids' socioeconomic background or school location? It would seem to me that schools in wealthier areas would have greater access to probes and computers, and therefore, SES would be entangled with the results to that question. It's not that I question the value of using probes and computers, it's just a thought....

8. Watching an hour or two of TV may be harmless, but watching 6 or more hours (per day!) correlates with lower scores...

9. Students who use the internet at home have significantly higher scores than those who do not. Is this another proxy for SES?

10. New York's science scores were just about average compared to other states'. 29 percent proficient + advanced, plus another 32 percent basic, leaving 39 percent below basic, or... behind.

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