Students excel in national science exam

A new federal report says Massachusetts eighth-graders were among the top performers on a national science proficiency exam. State officials said Thursday that Massachusetts students had an average scaled score of 161 out of 300 on the 2011 National Assessment of Educational Progress. The national average was 151. Just 44 percent of Massachusetts eighth-graders scored proficient or above. But the national average was 31 percent. Elementary and Secondary Education Commissioner Mitchell Chester says there is room for improvement. Gerry Wheeler, interim head of the National Science Teachers Association, said the overall national results were “simply unacceptable.’’ (AP)