The United States is facing a serious science dilemma after a study released on Thursday revealed that only 32% of eight-grade students in the United States reach the basic level of ‘proficient’ in science.
The 2011 National Assessment of Educational Progress, an exam administered by the Department of Education did reveal a 2% increase since the exam started in 2009, however the number is still “deeply disappointing, according to the executive director of the National Science Teachers Association.
The biggest worry is that the United States can not maintain and grow its “science-literate work force” if more students are not attracted to science at an early age.
In the meantime teaching organizations are blaming a lock of qualified science teachers and budget cuts which narrow their curriculum options as the main reason for a failure to attract more students to science. Teachers say No Child Left Behind has specifically made it harder to teach expanded science lessons to students willing to learn since the 2002 federal law focuses so heavily on math and reading tests and not science.
One teacher tells the Wall Street Journal:
“There is no coherency in science education in the U.S. so we end up with a scattered approach, and that harms our students.”
The study examined 122,000 eighth-grade students across the national last spring and assessed each student in knowledge, physical, life and earth sciences on a point scale ranging from 0 to 300.
The rigorous test ranks students as advanced, proficient, basic and below basic. The average score of 152 was two points higher than the 150 average when the current test scoring began in 2009.
In good news for the Hispanic community, hispanic students are improving, while still below the national average their scores did increase from 132 to 137.
The study found that only 2% of students reached the “advanced” ranking score.