Kentucky 4th-graders and 8th-graders beat national averages on science test

Science scores for Kentucky's fourth- and eighth-graders on the 2009 National Assessment of Educational Progress topped national averages.

Science scores for 2009 from the NAEP — sometimes called the "nation's report card"— were released Tuesday.

They showed Kentucky fourth-graders' average scale score in science was 161, compared with 149 for the nation. The average score for Kentucky's eighth-graders was 156 in science, compared with 149 for the nation.

NAEP's science grading scale runs from zero to 300.

The only Kentucky group that failed to outperform the national average was eighth-grade white students, whose average scale score was 159 compared with 161 for that group nationally.

Richard Innes, an educational analyst and blogger for Bluegrass Institute for Policy Solutions, noted there was a sharp difference between Kentucky's eighth-grade NAEP science scores and scores from the ACT Explore test, which also is given to eighth-grade students around the state.

Innes pointed out that while 34 percent of Kentucky eighth-graders tested proficient or better on the NAEP test, only 10.48 percent met benchmark scores on Explore. That could suggest "serious score inflation" in science, Innes suggested on his blog Tuesday.

Lisa Gross, spokeswoman for the state Department of Education, said the two tests are different and cannot be directly compared.