NECAP Science Scores Drop 6%; Biggest Drop – 19% – at Cole

by | Dec 16, 2014

Cole Middle School 8th graders scored 19 percent lower on the science NECAP test they took last May compared with 2013 results, the R.I. Department of Education reported Tuesday. Results districtwide were down 6.3 percent, with EGHS scores 10 percent lower but elementary scores up 8.4 percent. Across the state – and in other NECAP states – 8th grade results were significantly lower.

RIDE got the preliminary results in September but Commissioner Deborah Gist, surprised by the low 8th grade results, decided to review the results.

“To ensure that the results were accurate, RIDE decided to undertake a review of the science assessments and of the scoring process and to hold off on release of the assessment results until we completed this review,” read a statement accompanying Tuesday’s release. “The results of this review demonstrated the assessment itself and the scoring process met all technical requirements needed to report accurate results. RIDE did, however, find a couple of items on the science assessment for grades 4 and grade 8 that were borderline in meeting these requirements.

“These items are included in the part of the assessment known as the ‘inquiry task.’ The inquiry task asks students to design or critique scientific investigations, to analyze data, and to draw conclusions or explanations. Examples of these inquiry tasks can be found on the RIDE website, under ‘practice tests,’ on this page:

“Upon review of both the items and student responses used as scoring benchmarks RIDE found:

  • The wording on some of the items was unclear and could have led to an incorrect student response.
  • A small percentage of students who received zero points on the inquiry task should have received partial credit.”

According to RIDE, the smaller the grade, the greater likelihood that a few low scores will skew the total results. New Hampshire and Vermont, other NECAP states, reported similar lower 8th grade scores.

East Greenwich results:

The science NECAP was taken by 4th, 8th and 11th graders in May 2014, so these students are now one grade up.

  • Fourth graders scored 68 percent proficiency, up from 60 percent in 2013.
  • Eighth graders scored 57.5 percent, down from 76.4 percent in 2013.
  • Eleventh graders scored 57 percent, down from 67 percent in 2013.

Overall, East Greenwich students had an average 61 percent proficiency rating, compared to statewide average of 32 percent.

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