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NSTA Position Statement:
Learning Conditions for High School Science
Science educators face many challenges—including national standards, state standards, district goals, and public demands—as they attempt to provide safe and effective science learning. Science students and educators require adequate working conditions to meet these challenges.
Science students deserve a safe, effective learning environment. This requires safe and adequate conditions, adequate facilities and equipment, and competent, qualified teachers.
The National Science Teachers Association recommends the following standards for creating and maintaining science learning conditions:
- Science teachers should be certified in the science they are teaching
- New teachers should be assigned master science teachers as mentors
- Science teaching assignments should provide time for preparations necessary for safe and effective science teaching
- Science teachers should be scheduled in only one classroom to be able to manage the laboratory safely
- Science students should learn in classrooms that have the facilities and space for a safe laboratory-oriented program
- Students need adequate space to work safely. Because of safety considerations and the individual attention needed by students in laboratories, science classes should be limited to 24 students
- Science rooms/laboratories should be used only for science classes and science activities and should be equipped with:
- Adequate laboratory space per student and sufficient gas, electrical, and water outlets for student laboratory activities
- Safety equipment, such as fire extinguisher, fume hoods, emergency showers, and eyewash stations
- Audiovisual equipment such as an overhead projector; videocassette recorder and monitor; slide projector; and one or more computers with Internet access, plus needed software and maintenance service
- Sufficient storage for equipment and supplies and preparation space close to the classroom
- Support equipment such as photocopying machines, typewriters, word processors, and telephone in a nearby and accessible area
- Textbooks for each student, laboratory guides, and references as appropriate and needed
- Science teachers responsible for classes with special education students in an inclusion setting need
- Special education support adequate to safely and successfully meet the individual education plan of each inclusion student in the science classroom
- Access to professional development in teaching in an inclusion classroom
- Additional planning time with the special education teacher assigned to her or his classroom to modify the learning environment to better facilitate the safe learning process for those students with special needs
- Additional resources, professional development, and equipment and materials provided as necessary for inclusion students to be safely and completely involved in the least restricted science learning and activities
Kochhar, C. A., and L.L. West. 1996. Handbook for successful inclusion. Gaithersburg, MD: Aspen Publishers.
National Research Council (NRC). 1996. National science education standards. Professional Development Standard A, Teaching Standard D, Program Standard D, Program Standard F, and System Standard D. Washington, DC: National Academy Press.
New Jersey Department of Education. 2000. Planning is key to success in Howell Township.Inclusion Insights. (spring). Trenton, NJ: New Jersey Department of Education.
U.S. Department of Education (U.S. DoE). 2000. Before it–s too late: A report to the nation from the National Commission on Mathematics and Science Teaching for the 21st century, GOAL 3: Improve the working environment and make the teaching profession more attractive for K-12 mathematics and science teachers. Washington, DC: U.S. DoE
NSTA Committee on High School Science Teaching
Anne Tweed, Director (1999-2001)
Beverly Nelson, Director (2001-2004)
—Adopted by the Board of Directors
July 1986; Revised February 2002