The average scores for Nevada students in fourth and eighth grades fell below the national average for science on the 2009 National Assessment for Educational Progress, according to the Nevada Department of Education.
The NAEP assessment is often called the "nation's report card" because it allows for comparisons among states. The 2009 exam was given to 156,100 fourth-graders and 151,100 eighth-graders nationwide.
Based on a scale of 0 to 300, with 150 as the mean, Nevada students in both grades had average scores of 141 compared with the national average of 149.
Results for 64 percent of fourth-graders and 54 percent of eighth-graders from Nevada showed they had at least a basic understanding of science.
Scores for black and Hispanic eighth-graders were not considered "statistically different" than those of their peers nationally. But the national average of 125 for blacks and 131 for Hispanics lagged behind the average scores for other ethnic groups. The national average for Asians was 159. Caucasian students averaged 161.
Because the 2009 test was based on a "new framework," the National Center for Educational Statistics said 2009 results could not be compared with the results of previous assessments.
Officials with the Nevada Department of Education said that the state has "one of the highest percentages of fourth-grade students classified as English language learners" at 20 percent, which is double the national average.
Contact reporter James Haug at email@example.com or 702-799-2922.