Friday, December 09, 2005

Report: American schools put too little emphasis on science prep

Science standards are too low in many states, officials say

According to a new study, many states are doing a poor job of setting high academic standards for science in public schools. The study, released this week by the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, suggests that No Child Left Behind, the federal education mandate, puts emphasis on reading and math at the expense of science. The report says that when it comes to science, American students are not getting enough preparation to stay competitive with peers in other countries. Academic and corporate leaders are expressing a need to improve science prep and expand the talent pool. Details from the New York Times.

Tags: , , , , , ,


Malik said...

It's hard not to be pessimistic when I look at the overall condition of public school education. Geography, history, science, music: if it doesn't show up on some bureaucrat's standardized assessment, it's not important. It's all about money and ranking. Meanwhile we're raising a generation of kids who can't compose a decent sentence or critically evaluate evidence, and they're culturally illiterate to boot.

DCS said...

I know of progressive school districts that integrate language arts (reading) into the entire curriculum, including science. It seems to work well. Of course, devising a challenging science curriculum at the elementary, middle school, and high school levels is one of the critical keys to success.

Jaimie said...

For the first time ever in 8 years I'm teaching science. Can you believe that?

I finally got a science teacher's guide and materials!

DCS said...

Jaimie: I can believe it! I'm glad that you finally received the teacher's guide and materials. However, the delay in your getting those materials casts a less than favorable light on the decision-makers in your district.

One of the reasons I removed my daughter from a school district a few years ago was the fact that students in 7th and 8th grade had no lab equipment in their science classes. My daughter could not bring home a science text book because there weren't enough books for all of the students.

The building principal wasn't the hold-up. The principal had already recommended the purchase of materials, but the paperwork sat on the superintendent's desk for months.

I called the superintendent myself (without giving away the confidence of the principal), and voiced my outrage. The superintendent acknowledged that the kids didn't have books or equipment, but he blamed it on the students.

It was at that moment that I knew my daughter's days in that district were numbered. Sadly, this was just one of many examples of how the district set the kids up for failure.

DCS said...

When I was in college, I worked as a research assistant for the technology and human affairs department of an engineering school at the university. My job was to take a look at why more children of color weren't pursuing careers in science and technology.

One look at the course offerings in urban school districts revealed a lot. There was a disturbing absence of high-level math and science courses at the high school level.

I asked for and reviewed the course descriptions given to high school students. In one high school's book, a math class included these words in its course description: "Little to no homework."

Jaimie said...

How did the super manage to blame the students for the lack of materials?

Our children are not receiving the resources or instruction so needed in science.

I was lucky because I was able to attend school in a very good district, so there never seemed to be a lack of supplies or good teachers. Now that I teach in a low income area, the differences are astounding.

DCS said...

The superintendent said, "Do you know why the kids don't have books? Because they don't take care of them. They throw them on the roofs! They lose them! They don't appreciate books!"