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Less than half of Virginia's elementary- and middle-schoolers show a solid grasp of science, and drastic achievement gaps still exist among racial groups.
Results from the 2009 National Assessment of Educational Progress show 46 percent of Virginia fourth-graders and 36 percent of eighth-graders demonstrated at least proficient skills in earth, physical and life sciences, according to a report released Tuesday.
Virginia's students performed better than the national proficiency averages of 32 percent for fourth-graders and 29 percent for eighth-graders on the federal test, also known as "the Nation's Report Card."
Virginia is also doing better than the national average when it comes to closing the achievement gap -- but stark differences are still apparent.
Among whites in Virginia, 59 percent of fourth-graders and 48 percent of eighth-graders were proficient. Eighteen percent of black fourth-graders and 11 percent of eighth-graders showed proficiency.