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New England Common Assessment Program (NECAP) Science Test Results Released


Results of the New England Common Assessment Program (NECAP) science test, administered to students in grades 4, 8, and 11, were released today by Commissioner of Education Virginia M. Barry, Ph.D. The science assessment, administered in May 2015, measured what students know and are able to do in the areas of Earth & Space Science, Physical Science, Life Science, and Inquiry. NECAP is a collaborative partnership involving three states: New Hampshire, Vermont, and Rhode Island. This partnership was established in response to the federal No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB), which requires that states annually measure the achievement of all students in science not less than one time during grades 3-5, 6-9 and 10-12.

These assessments marked the eighth year of NECAP science assessments. Forty-nine percent of New Hampshire students tested scored proficient or better in science at grade four. In grade eight, 24 percent scored proficient or better, and in grade eleven, 33 percent demonstrated proficiency. It is important to note that the NECAP is only one measure of academic progress and a single annual assessment is not a sufficient way of measuring overall student success.

“Score results show increased levels of proficiency in science proficiency at grades 4 and 11, and have remained steady in grade 8,” said Commissioner Barry. “This is an indication that schools and districts have been successful in improving their science instruction, as well as aligning their professional development plans to support this work. We need to continue to help schools and districts so that all educators have the resources and knowledge they need to teach science effectively.”

NECAP results are reported using the same four achievement levels as the other content areas. These levels describe a student's proficiency on the content and skills taught in the grade spans K-4, 5-8, and 9-11. Performance at Proficient (Level 3) or Proficient with Distinction (Level 4) indicates that the student has a level of proficiency necessary to become scientifically literate by the end of their high school experience. Performance at Partially Proficient (Level 2) or Substantially Below Proficient (Level 1) suggests that additional instruction and student support is needed on content and skills.

The NECAP Science Assessment is based on a common set of academic standards known as Science Assessment Targets, developed by teams of educators from the three states. The current standards are now nine years old and the New Hampshire Department of Education will be working with a team of educators, science experts and other stakeholders to review the standards over the next school year and determine how they should be revised. This process aligns with the recommendation of the Governor appointed STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) Task Force report released in January, 2015 (www.governor.nh.gov/commissions-task-forces/stem/index.htm).

Additionally, four NH school districts, Epping, Rochester, Sanborn Regional, and Souhegan, implemented a new science assessment system this year, as part of a two year pilot of Performance Assessment of Competency Education (PACE), approved by the United States Department of Education in March. Achievement level determinations for science from the pilot districts will be released in November, along with English Language Arts and Mathematics Smarter Balanced results.

The 2015 Science NECAP results can be found at www.education.nh.gov/instruction/assessment/necap/results/index.htm.

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