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How Does Science Testing Work Under ESSA?

By Alyson Klein — October 15, 2018 2 min read

Welcome to another edition of “Answering Your ESSA” questions, where we try to get to the bottom of questions from readers about the Every Student Succeeds Act and its implementation. This week’s question comes from an anonymous reader.

Question: How many states have included science testing in their plans, and what states will count science in their accountability system?

Answer: Every state will have to test students in science. The law, like its predecessor, the No Child Left Behind Act, requires states to test students in grades 3 through 8 and once in high school in reading and math. But states also have to test students at least three times in science, once in grade 3 through 5, once in grade 6 through 9, and once in grades 10 through 12.

Those science tests don’t have to be used for accountability purposes, like they do for math and reading. But at least 19 states are choosing to make them part of their school rating systems anyway.

At least 14 states are using science as an indicator of school quality or student success, including Arkansas, Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, and Vermont.

And at least five are using science tests as a way to gauge schools academically, including Illinois, Kentucky, New York, North Carolina, and Oklahoma.

For more, check out our inside look at state ESSA plans.

Got an ESSA question? Email us at or Or tweet at us @PoliticsK12.

Want to see what other readers are wondering? Here are links to past installments of this feature:

How Do State ESSA Plans Handle Mental Health?

What’s New for Children in Foster Care Under ESSA?

What’s the Toughest Part of ESSA For District Leaders?

How Does Funding For ESSA’s Testing Requirements Work?

Does ESSA Require Teachers to Be Highly Qualified?

Can Districts Use ESSA Funds to Buy Crossing Guard Signs?

How Are States Handling Testing Opt-Outs Under ESSA?

Can Districts Use the SAT or ACT for School Accountability Without State OK?

Which States Are Eschewing School Grades?

How Can Districts and States Use ESSA to Bolster STEM and Computer Science?

What’s Going on With Testing Audits?

What’s Up With ESSA Block Grant Funding?

Is Testing the Only Way a Student Can Achieve Success Under ESSA?

Want to learn more about the Every Student Succeeds Act? Here’s some useful information:

Follow us on Twitter at @PoliticsK12.


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