Interpretations & Implications of NESA Science Scores  

November 27, 2012

Last spring, public schools across Nebraska administered the NeSA Science (NeSA-S) assessment for the first time. Only students in fifth, eighth, and eleventh grades were assessed. Each grade-level assessment included an equal
representation of items from each of the four comprehensive content area standards, addressing inquiry and the nature of science, physical science, life science, and Earth and space sciences. Cut scores for proficiency levels were
set by the State Board of Education, which will remain the same for four years.

The Nebraska Department of Education released holistic scores on the NeSA-S to schools and to the public in August. To view individual school and school district results of all NeSA tests for the 2011-2012 school year click here.

Overall, about two-thirds of Nebraska students met or exceeded standards. This initial proficiency level is very similar to the proficiency level on the first year of the NeSA Reading and of the NeSA Math assessments1.

At the end of October, schools were given more specific the details about student performance, including how students performed in each of the four comprehensive content area standards. This information will also be contained in the Nebraska Department of Education’s 2011- 2012 State of the Schools Report, which will be released at the end of November.

It is important for teachers, administrators, parents and the general public to remember that these scores are baseline data and should not be compared with past results on STARS assessments. This is because there are significant
differences in the assessments, as are expanded upon below:



  • Administered in the spring of 5th, 8th, and 11th grades
  • No opportunities for reteaching and/or retesting
  • Comprehensive of all science content taught over a 3-year period
  • All questions are multiple-choice
  • Could be administered at the point of instruction
  • Unlimited opportunities to reteach and/or reasses could be broken into smaller, more frequently administered sections that included information from one unit of study
  • Questions could be multiple choice, short snswer, fill-in-the blank, matching, or preformance-based

1 – Nebraska State Accountability: 2012 Report of Student Results for Reading, Mathematics, Science, and Writing.