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Few 5th-, 8th-graders reach advanced science level in exams

The Baltimore Sun

A relatively low number of fifth- and eighth-graders scored at the highest level of the science portion of the Maryland Assessments, but school officials are optimistic that scores will rise as students become more familiar with the test.

The test was administered for the first time in April, and students had the option to take it online. Measuring student achievement in science is a requirement of the federal No Child Left Behind Act, but it is not a measurement of adequate yearly progress under the act's guidelines.

The results were released yesterday shortly before the State Board of Education unanimously approved the baseline scores for the science test. Individualized school data is expected to be released in late February.

Six percent of fifth-graders scored advanced on the science portion of the test compared to 33.1 percent for reading and 20.7 percent for math. Three percent of eighth-graders scored advanced compared to 23.9 percent for reading and 25 percent for math. Overall, 60 percent of fifth-graders and 61 percent of eighth-graders passed the science test.

A third of fifth- and eighth-graders took the test online in April. Officials hope to expand online testing to other subject areas in the future. In May 2009, students will have the option to take the High School Assessments online.

john-john.williams@baltsun.com

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