Virginia's eighth-graders perform better in science than their peers nationwide, but only 40 percent have a solid grasp of the subject.
According to National Assessment of Educational Progress results released Thursday, 38 percent of public school eighth-graders achieved "proficient" science scores in 2011, compared to 34 percent in 2009. Two percent scored at the "advanced" level, unchanged from 2009.
Nationally, 29 percent scored at the proficient level and 2 percent at the advanced level.
Proficiency is defined as solid academic performance at grade level, including subject-matter knowledge, application of such knowledge to real-world situations, and analytical skills appropriate to the subject matter.