The National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP) recently released the results from its national science testing for grades 4, 8 and 12. The results are not good: 29% of fourth-grade students, 38% of eighth-grade students and 40% of high school seniors performed below a basic level in science while only 1-2% performed at an advanced level in any of the three grades. It’s especially troublesome that the scores got worse as the grade levels increase.
One possible reason for this trend is the emphasis we now place on reading and mathematics, both of which are part of the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB). While its good that our children are getting more of the basics, it’s coming at a cost. Many schools are deliberately cutting back on science instruction because its not part of NCLB. And because funding is tied to NCLB, most states have been forced to make budget cuts in non-tested school subjects such as science and other programs, as well as books, field trips and school supplies.
What can we do about it? We have to take our children’s education into our own hands. If our children are not getting what they need from our schools we have to supplement it. Its my experience that kids love science—they just need the exposure. A trip to the library can work wonders at spurring a kids innate desire to learn.
We also need to voice our concerns with our school boards and school administrators. President Obama has made it clear that he is not a fan of NCLB as it is currently structured so lets hope it gets a good overhauling soon. Let your representatives know what you think. So instead of a quiz today lets do some homework instead.