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Nation’s Report Card Shows When Kids Lose Interest In Science

flickr / Tim Pierce

Getting your kid interested in science shouldn’t be as hard of a sell as it is. You want them to make good money when they grow up. They already turn everything the touch into an surprise snot experiment. In theory, everyone wins. But results from the National Assessment Of Educational Progress (NAEP), aka the Nation’s Report Card, suggests that maintaining your kid’s interest in science as they get older is a Bill Nye-level feat.

Students were tested in physical science, life science, and Earth and space science in 2015. Those scores were compared to scores from 2009, which was the last time the test was given nationwide. Results show that science test scores rose for 4th and 8th grade students, and achievement gaps between those white students and students of color also narrowed. That’s great news, aside from the fact that these scores showed that this proficiency plateaued among high school seniors. Despite improvements in raw scores, more than 60 percent of students in each grade scored “basic” or “below basic” in science, with a whopping 78 percent of 12th-graders performing at those levels.

While this could imply that puberty and science don’t mix, it’s slightly more complicated. There are a few caveats: the tests were voluntary and 7 states and jurisdictions did not participate in one or both of the years. There also weren’t enough scores to get state-by-state data on 12th-graders. Still, it did highlight a valuable takeaway that students performed better in science with teachers who did more hands-on activities in class. Nothing wakes up a Senior like a good explosion.

Scores were also higher among students who had taken biology, chemistry, and physics before 12th grade than students who had only taken one or 2 of the classes. Last bit of good news: the number of students who took all 3 classes is on the rise as well — from 53 percent in 2009 to 57 percent in 2015. So, it’s entirely possible that younger kids are catching up to the older kids. Just very, very slowly. Hopefully science can figure out how to speed that up before your kid gets to high school, because senior moments are more your thing.

[H/T] The 74