Wednesday, December 07, 2005

U.S. AIMS LOW IN TEACHING SCIENCE

A report issued Wednesday by the Thomas B. Fordham Institute puts blame on the current emphasis on reading and math -- part of No Child Left Behind.

States will be required in 2007 to start testing on science. The Fordham report indicates that the U.S. isn't ready for that step. Students aren't prepared.

The New York Times reports:
The report also appears to support concerns raised by a growing number of university officials and corporate executives, who say that the failure to produce students well-prepared in science is undermining the country's production of scientists and engineers and putting the nation's economic future in jeopardy.

Dozens of academic, corporate and Congressional leaders emerged from a meeting on competitiveness here on Tuesday to warn that the nation needs to expand its talent pool in science to stay ahead of countries like China and India that put vast resources into science education.

"Many states are not yet serious about teaching science," said Michael Petrilli, vice president for national programs and policy of the institute, a group that supports education reform. "The first step is to set higher expectations, and too many states have low or a lack of expectations to respond to the new global competitiveness."

Education Secretary Margaret Spellings, a strong proponent of more testing to measure how effectively schools are teaching, said she was not surprised by the findings.

"I'm a what-gets-measured-gets-done kind of gal," she said in an interview. She cited the reluctance of many districts to teach algebra before high school as an illustration of the nation's problem with science and math, adding, "If children are not taking it until the ninth grade or ever, we are in a world of hurt."
We're also in a world of hurt if the secretary of education answers a question about science woes with an example about math. Especially when an emphasis on math is partly to blame for the paucity of science education. Then again, is it asking too much for excellence on science and math and reading and writing? Might come in handy when the next few generations have to deal with China.

By the way, in the Fordham report, Missouri scores 66 out of 100 -- a generous C.

1 comment:

John Stone said...

It is a "C". But in my reading of the full report I think it is better in Missouri than that. They downgraded MO because of some administrative stuff... not what's going on in the classroom.

Kansas? .... their comment was .... HAHAHAHAHAHA ....