For the first time on the NAEP science exam in Tennessee , the average score for female students surpassed that of their male peers . Although this finding and other gains are encouraging , continued focus on rigorous science education is needed to make progress for all student groups . Approximately 60 percent of both fourth-grade and eighth-grade students in Tennessee remain below expected proficiency levels .
Fourteen percent of Tennessee students have an identified disability . Students with disabilities ( SWDs ) have made notable gains on fourth- and eighth-grade math exams , as well as eighth-grade reading . In fourth grade , however , Tennessee SWDs continue to trail their peers nationally . On the 2015 eighth-grade math exam , the average score gap between Tennessee SWDs and the national average narrowed from 12 points to 5 points . On the eighth-grade reading exam , Tennessee SWDs surpassed the national average of their peers . In math , fourth-graders overcame a 4-point gap to surpass the national average . On the fourth-grade reading exam , however , a previous 8-point gap widened to 10 points .
English learners ( ELs ) made great strides on the fourthgrade reading NAEP assessment , narrowing the score gap with their native English-speaking Tennessee peers by 28 points while surpassing the average national EL student score . ELs made similar gains in fourth-grade math , growing 17 points between 2013 and 2015 to surpass the national EL average by 15 points .
Federal law defines an English learner ( EL ) student as one “ whose difficulties in speaking , reading , writing , or understanding the English language may be sufficient to deny the individual the ability to meet the challenging state academic standards , the ability to successfully achieve in classrooms where the language of instruction is English , or the opportunity to participate fully in society .”