U.S. State Science Standards Are “Mediocre to Awful”

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new report from the Thomas B. Fordham Institute paints a grim picture of state science standards across the United States. But it also reveals some intriguing details about exactly what’s going wrong with the way many American students are learning science.


Standards are the foundation upon which educators build curricula, write textbooks and train teachers– they often take the form of a list of facts and skills that students must master at each grade level. Each state is free to formulate its own standards, and numerous studies have found that high standards are a first step on the road to high student achievement. “A majority of the states’ standards remain mediocre to awful,” write the authors of the report. Only one state, California, plus the District of Columbia, earned straight A’s. Indiana, Massachusetts, South Carolina and Virginia each scored an A-, and a band of states in and around the northwest, including Oregon, Idaho, Montana and Nebraska, scored F’s. (For any New Yorkers reading this, our standards earned a respectable B+, plus the honor of having “some of the most elegant writing of any science standards document”).

What exactly is going wrong? The study’s lead authors identified four main factors: an undermining of evolution, vague goals, not enough guidance for teachers on how to integrate the history of science and the concept of scientific inquiry into their lessons, and not enough math instruction.

Written By: Anna Kuchment
continue to source article at blogs.scientificamerican.com

22 COMMENTS

  1. If you require a belief in evolution, you must also require a belief in gravity, atomic and germ theories. I don’t believe in evolution. I accept evolution the same way I accept gravity. Scientific theories don’t require a belief, science doesn’t care what you believe. You either accept a scienctific principle based on the demonstrable evidence or you don’t accept it based on the demonstrable evidence. Saying I don’t believe in evolution is just as ridiculous as saying you don’t believe gravity. More so, saying evolution is a lie from the pit of hell takes the cake. Can you prove evolution is not an attribute of God?

  2. I wish he wasn’t. We need a good dose of conflict here.

    Personally, I think the US needs educational reform. We will never have a strong economy again with mediocre to awful running the show.

  3. the problem with the standards is that they are nebulous.  They are fuzzy.  It seems like they are that way on purpose, to set teachers and students up for failure.  Why don’t we have explicit instruction?  The state boards of education should hire to best of the best to put together a curriculum for each subject that is top notch and goals and standards built in.  Then it would be up to teachers to execute said curricula.

    As it stands, we never know what questions are going to be on these standardized tests, nor do we know how heavily a topic will be represented.  A teacher may spend 15% of their class days on a topic and the test has one question on that topic.  The college board does it correctly with their AP program.  The state should take note and act accordingly.

  4. How about a study on the rest of the world, and where science innovation comes from. how about a study why America isn’t doing well in science anymore, perhaps, it has something to do with the 1965 immigration act, the 1986 amnesty, and the changing demographics of America, perhaps not.

  5.  The Republicans have the House of Representatives, but they also have control of a lot of Governorships, State houses, boards of education and so on. They’ve been defeated at the national level, but they’re far from defeated nationally.

    That said, I don’t just blame this on science denying crazies. The education system in the US would work a lot better if it were centrally administered. Given that’s unacceptable to so many there, there should at least be national standard proposals formulated by a consensus of scientists and qualified educators that can be adopted by states. The de facto selection of textbooks for the nation by the Texas board of education is… quaint.

  6. Are you sure about that?

    Josey Wales  Jim Fox • 2 months ago −
    At least the Atheists have a holiday,April 1st. Good for you.

    Josey Wales  UKLex • 2 months ago
    People who are gay have to be mentally ill. No person in their right mind would do something like that. I guess being a pedophile is an alternative lifestyle also.They are all sick.
    1  •Reply•Share ›

    Patrik Åstrand • 2 months ago
    Apes AND humans have a common ancestor that is NOT alive today.
    4 •Reply•Share ›

    Josey Wales  Patrik Åstrand • 2 months ago
    Maybe you and your family came from monkeys but I sure did’nt. Do you like bananas?
    0  •Reply•Share

    Of course it could be a different Josey Wales with a seperate Disqus account and it’s just a coincidence. If so, my apologies to the Mr Wales who’s a member of this site.

    http://www.wkyt.com/home/headl
    http://richarddawkins.net/news

  7.  “Monkeys don’t have bank accounts ”  ????  I can’t find the link right now, but there was a story recently about a monkey in a zoo, who carefully collected rocks and stored them in one spot, so that when humans came to his enclosure later, he could throw them at them.

  8. rod-the-farmer

      “Monkeys
    don’t have bank accounts ”  ????  

    I can’t find the link right now, but there was a story recently about a monkey in a zoo, who carefully collected rocks and stored them in one spot, so that when humans came to his enclosure later, he could throw them at them.

    Capuchin monkeys not only collect the right types of stones as tools, but collect palm nuts and leave them to dry until they are ready to crack!

    Capuchin monkeys choose the right tool for the nut – http://www.sciencenews.org/vie

    Squirrels and mice of course, deposit caches of seeds to last them through the winter – just like tribal peoples.

  9. My favourite response to articles like this are: “Yeah, by YOUR standards our education sucks, but that’s because you assume evolution, the Big Bang and stuff are true and should be taught!”

    Priceless.

    PS: As for the calls for more conflict, I propose we hold a ‘bring a religious friend’ day. Let’s all invite one from another forum tomorrow.

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