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Comprehensiveness, frequency, and consistency of science in elementary schedules The role of leaders in supporting elementary science

Science and Children—March/April 2024 (Volume 61, Issue 2)

By Elizabeth Davis, Christa Haverly

Science in the elementary grades is often deprioritized in comparison to ELA and mathematics. We wondered, how comprehensively, frequently, and consistently is science included in elementary schools’ schedules? We reviewed daily schedules for 14 schools in 9 districts across the U.S. to qualitatively examine how science is represented on the daily instructional schedule. These schools were selected as “best case scenarios” recommended by district or state science leaders as places where science is taken seriously. We complemented these schedules with data from 21 interviews with teachers, science specialists, and school leaders to better understand how science actually appears in children’s daily instructional experiences. We found that, in these schools, science is taught comprehensively (though not as comprehensively as ELA or mathematics), has the potential for being taught frequently (even in the lower elementary grades), and is taught somewhat consistently (albeit usually in some kind of rotation with social studies). We present implications for how leaders can craft school schedules to make science comprehensive, frequent, and consistent in the elementary grades, to provide important opportunities to learn and thrive for all children.

Curriculum General Science Pedagogy Teaching Strategies Elementary

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