AUGUSTA – Maine students outperformed most other states on the science portion of the National Assessment of Educational Progress that was administered in 2009, according to results released today.

Comparing scores across the nation, Maine’s fourth-graders tied for fifth place on the science test, while Maine’s eighth-graders tied for eighth place, said David Connerty-Marin, spokesman for the Maine Department of Education.

Forty-two percent of Maine’s fourth-graders scored “proficient” or better, compared to 32 percent nationally, while 35 percent of Maine’s eighth-graders scored “proficient” or better, compared to 29 percent nationally, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.

Results for the test’s reading and math portions were released in late 2009 and early 2010, Connerty-Marin said.

The NAEP is the only exam that allows comparison of student performance across states. Five states didn’t participate.

Maine’s lower-income and black students performed better than other states on the science test.

In Maine, 29 percent of fourth-graders who are eligible for free or reduced-price lunch scored “proficient” or better on the science test, compared to 16 percent nationally, Connerty-Marin said. In the same category, 22 percent of Maine’s eighth-graders scored “proficient” or better, compared to 14 percent nationally, Connerty-Marin said.

Maine’s fourth-graders who are black had an average score that was 21 points lower than white students, compared to 35 points lower nationally, according to the national center. Maine’s eighth-graders who are black had an average score that was 33 percent lower than white students, compared to 36 points nationally, the center reported.