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Better, But Still Work to Do

While fourth- and eighth-graders in the US have performed better in the sciences on a national assessment than in the past, only about a third had a strong showing, the Associated Press reports. Further, only one in five high-school seniors obtained a 'proficient' or higher score, it adds.

"We still are not at a place as a country where we are preparing the future STEM workforce that we need," says John King, Jr., the US education secretary. "We think there's significant work still to do, but we are heartened by the progress that we see in these results."

The US Department of Education's National Assessment of Educational Progress exams cover reading, science, and writing, and is used as a tool to gauge how various groups of students are faring, the Huffington Post adds. The results of the 2015 exam were released this week.

While the results show that students aren't doing as well as hoped, they also revealed that achievement gaps between white, black, and Hispanic students are narrowing, the AP reports. For instance, the Huffington Post notes that gap in scores between black and white fourth-graders fell by three points, while the gap between white and Hispanic fourth-graders decreased by five points. However, it notes that, on average, black students still scored 33 points lower and Hispanic students 27 points lower than white students.

The results indicate that the gender gap is also closing. According to the Huffington Post, female fourth-graders now have the same average score as male fourth-graders in science.