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State test scores fall in science and social studies

Delaware Public Media

Delaware standardized science test scores continue to drop, with the majority of students ranking as below or well-below proficiency.

Data for the Delaware Comprehensive Assessment System (DCAS) show that out of the 5th, 8th and 10th graders tested, no group reached 50 percent proficiency in science.

That news continues the downward trend the state has seen over the past few years, with average scores in science losing between four and seven points across those grade levels since 2012.

"To be frank, I'm disappointed," said state Education Secretary Mark Murphy.

Presented to the State Board of Education Thursday, president Teri Quinn Gray, herself a DuPont research scientist, echoed those sentiments, noting, "We haven't made much progress at all."

The percentage of students proficient in science has also dropped in younger kids since 2012, but is slightly up in 10th graders.

In social studies, 4th and 7thgraders fared a bit better, with 61 and 58 percent of them meeting or exceeding expectations respectively.

Murphy says schools that have de-emphasized those subject areas need to adjust their curriculum.

“If we are going to say a raise in the achievement of our students in these critical areas, then we have to see an incredible prioritization around those areas and that translates to an increase in time, an increase in focus and, certainly, an increase in the development of the teachers,” he said.

Gov. Jack Markell (D) has made it a point to prioritize science, technology, engineering and math since first elected in 2009, but that effort has shown little results through standardized test scores.

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