What We Can Learn From Tennessee’s Improving Science Scores

The 2015 report for the National Assessment of Educational Progress, or the Nation’s Report Card which assesses student learning progress, was released publicly this October. Tennessee saw substantial improvement in science scores and was among the few states who scored higher than the national average.

Since 2009, Tennessee students have reported higher scores on national assessments, and in 2013 became one of the nation’s fastest improving states in reading and math. The Nation’s Report Card showed the national fourth grade science section is currently between 149 to 153 out of the available 300 points. In Tennessee, scores improved from 2009’s 148 to 2015’s 157—higher than the national average.

The report demonstrated that Tennessee’s gender gap in fourth and eighth grade was eliminated, while the score gap narrowed between white, black, and Latino students.

“Tennessee has completely eliminated the gap between male and female students, something that historically has been difficult in science,” says Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam.

Haslam attributes the rise in science scores to an increased focus on STEM learning in the classroom. Tennessee has invested heavily in bringing technology and innovation into the classroom to spark an increased interest in all students. Specifically, “engaging students in fun, real-world problem solving helps to pique their interest in STEM at a young age,” as reported by US News.

This latest report shows there has been a gradual increase in scores for the the science national average supporting the changes that have been made in science education. However, math scores decreased from 2013 to 2015.

Overall scores are estimated to rise in the next ten years in part due to the “Computer Science for All” initiative, which gives 10 million dollars, along with 4 billion in state funding, directly to teacher training and more instruction materials to help make computer science more accessible and efficient to all students. The Tennessee Board of Education has released new science standards for the first time in ten years that will reach classrooms Fall 2018, which they hope will help them continue to achieve in science.

Courtney Major

Courtney Major

Courtney Major is a Senior Writing, Literature, and Publishing student at Emerson College, where she has written for multiple on-campus publications. Her work has also been published on multiple online diabetes magazines. When she isn’t working, she’s probably trying to find the best espresso with whipped cream in Boston.