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No good news from the Nation's Report Card on Science

By Francis Eberle

Posted on 2011-01-31

The 2009 National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP) Science scores were released last week, and NSTA was fortunate to have a number of journalists calling and asking our thoughts about the results. We sent a statement that began:

The National Science Teachers Association is concerned with the low student scores in science reflected in the 2009 National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP). Far too many of the students tested fell below the proficiency level. This is completely unacceptable. Our nation can not afford to have a scientifically illiterate workforce.

We were not the only ones to react this way to the NAEP results. After talking about U.S students and international scores, George Will states: “Annual federal funding of research in mathematics, engineering and the physical sciences is equal to the increase in America’s health-care costs every nine weeks.” He also discusses education and what national standards might do to help.
What is clear to us, and fortunately for many but not all on Capitol Hill, is that if the US wants jobs for the future we must invest in our future and that means realizing that investing in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics education as one of the nation’s largest economic drivers must become a priority this year. The President believes we need to out-innovate, out-educate, and out-build the rest of the world. Science education is the foundation for that to occur.
Our teachers tell us that in many schools over the past nine years—thanks to NCLB—science education has seen a dramatic reduction in funding and in support from administrators who focus only on mathematics and English language arts (ELA). This was my message during several interviews I did on NAEP, and I also said, many times, that science teachers are trying very hard, but without this support they are not seeing the results they want.
We are hopeful that science will be on a level playing field with ELA and mathematics during the reauthorization of ESEA, and I hope we can carry this message to our representatives in Congress.  If we agree that Science, Technology Engineering and Mathematics is important to this country’s future, then let’s act that way and make it a priority. Is this being too political for science educators? What do you think?

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