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Week of July 30, 2007

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NSTA Executive Director Takes Part in National Town Hall Meeting at 2007 Mickelson ExxonMobil Teachers Academy

On Monday, July 23, NSTA Executive Director Gerry Wheeler joined U.S. Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings, professional golfer Phil Mickelson, his wife Amy, officials from ExxonMobil, and Math Solutions for a National Town Hall Meeting with elementary teachers from across the country to discuss the current state of science and math education at the 2007 Mickelson ExxonMobil Teachers Academy. The group emphasized the importance of improving the nation’s science and math education system so that students are better prepared to compete in the 21st century global workforce.

The Mickelson ExxonMobil Teachers Academy was established in 2005 by ExxonMobil, Phil and Amy Mickelson, NSTA, and Math Solutions to provide third- through fifth-grade teachers from around the country with creative and innovative methods of teaching math and science. Two hundred teachers selected from school districts across the country participated in the National Town Hall Meeting and spent the remainder of the week participating in Academy activities and lessons.

To read more about and see photos of the National Town Hall Meeting and the Academy, visit http://www.nsta.org/nstaexpress/nstaexpress_2007_07_30_Photos.htm or the Department of Education site at http://www.ed.gov/news/pressreleases/2007/07/07232007.html.

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75 Fewer Minutes for Elementary Science Per Week as Result of NCLB Says CEP Report

The Center on Education Policy (CEP) released a survey last week that examines the amount of time spent during the school week on core academic subjects and how the allocation of time across subjects has changed since the 2001-2002 school year, when NCLB was enacted. The report finds that approximately 62% of school districts increased the amount of time spent in elementary schools on reading and language arts and/or math, while 44% of districts cut time on science, social studies, art and music, physical education, lunch, and/or recess.

“According to the new survey, the average change in instructional time in elementary schools since the law’s enactment has been 140 additional minutes per week for reading, 87 additional minutes per week for math, 76 fewer minutes per week for social studies, 75 fewer minutes for science (emphasis added), 57 fewer minutes for art, and 40 fewer minutes for gym,” writes New York Times reporter Sam Dillon.

The report is available online from the CEP or the New York Times.

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Student Results Show Benefits of Math and Science Partnerships

The National Science Foundation is reporting that students' performance on annual math and science assessments improved in almost every age group when their schools were involved in a Math and Science Partnership (MSP) program.

MSP-participating school districts found that a significantly higher proportion of students scored at the "proficient" level or higher on state math and science assessments in the 2004-2005 school year than they had in 2003-2004. Progress among elementary math students was particularly noteworthy, with student proficiency rising by more than 15 percentage points from one school year to the next.

The MSP currently supports 52 such partnerships around the country that unite some 150 institutions of higher education with more than 550 school districts, including more than 3,300 schools in 30 states and Puerto Rico. More than 70 businesses, numerous state departments of education, science museums, and community organizations are also partners.
For more information go to http://www.nsf.gov/news/news_summ.jsp?cntn_id=109725

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Students in Rural Areas Do Better in Science Says New NCES Report

Last week, a new report issued by the National Center on Education Statistics on rural schools found that students in rural areas do better in science than their counterparts in urban schools. The Status of Education in Rural America provides a series of indicators on the status of education in rural America, including the findings that in 2003-2004 more than half of all operating school districts and one-third of all public schools in the United States were in rural areas, yet only one-fifth of all public school students were enrolled in rural areas.

A larger percentage of rural public school students in the 4th and 8th grades in 2005 scored at or above the proficient level on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) reading, mathematics, and science assessments than did public school students in cities at these grade levels. However, smaller percentages of rural public school students than suburban public school students scored at or above the proficient level in reading and mathematics.

Read the report at http://nces.ed.gov/pubs2007/ruraled/ or read more in the San Fran Chronicle article.

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Renowned Former Astronaut Kathryn C. Thornton to Give Keynote Address at NSTA Area Conference in Birmingham, Alabama

Renowned former astronaut Kathryn C. Thornton will give the keynote address to thousands of teachers who attend the NSTA Fall Conference on Science Education in Birmingham. Currently, Thornton is a professor at the University of Virginia in the School of Engineering and Applied Science in the Department of Science, Technology and Society and Associate Dean for Graduate Programs. Thornton was selected for four space missions between 1984 and 1995. These missions included the maiden flight of the space shuttle Endeavor and extravehicular activity to repair the International Telecommunications Satellite (INTELSAT) and Hubble Space Telescope. In her scheduled remarks, Space Flight: A Human Perspective, Thornton will recount her rich experiences as an astronaut and share her views on opportunities for future explorers. Don’t miss this enlightening and entertaining presentation. For more information, visit www.nsta.org/conferences/2007bir/.

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Professional development courses in your future?
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Take a look at these groups offering courses for science educators!



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