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State Science Education Standards Hurt U.S. Competitiveness, According to Report

Seventy-five percent of states (38 states) received grades of “C” or lower for their science education curriculum and instructions, according to a new report from the Thomas B. Fordham Institute. In contrast, only seven states received an “A-” or an “A.” California and the District of Columbia were the only “As.” Indiana, Massachusetts, South Carolina and Virginia received “A-s” for their excellent state science standards. New York was the only state to receive a “B+.” Another six states were able to achieve a “B” — Arkansas, Kansas, Louisiana, Maryland, Ohio and Utah.

In The State of State Science Standards 2012, researchers reviewed and analyzed the guidelines that inform K-12 science curriculum and instruction in every state and the District of Columbia. States were evaluated on the clarity, content, completeness and scientific correctness of their standards. However, researchers did not investigate whether science standards are properly assessed with state tests, effectively implemented in the schools or whether they are driving improvements in student achievement.

The results indicate that most states lack rigorous, content-rich science standards for K-12 students in most states. The report found four common areas where state science standards were flawed, including:

  1. Anti-evolutionary pressures continue to threaten and weaken science standards in many jurisdictions;

  2. Many standards are extremely vague;

  3. Science educators, curriculum developers and standards writers have focused excessive attention on “inquiry-based learning” instead of direct instruction of specific content; and,

  4. Few states make essential link between math and science clear and many seem to go to great lengths to avoid mathematical formulae and equations altogether.

According to the report, these poor results and common trends place America’s national competitiveness, technological prowess and scientific leadership in grave jeopardy. Read the report and individual state report cards…

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