‘Mediocre to Awful’ State Science Standards Could Jeopardize U.S. Competitiveness
A new report from the Thomas B. Fordham Institute on the United States K-12 state science standards reports that “the majority of the states’ standards remain mediocre to awful.” Several states around the northwest scored F’s, while only seven states scored and A- or higher.
Washington, D.C.— A major Thomas B. Fordham Institute report released today finds that the K-12 science standards of most states remain mediocre to awful, placing America’s national competitiveness, technological prowess and scientific leadership in grave jeopardy.
Since the Sputnik launch of 1957, Americans have regarded science education as crucial to our national security and economic competitiveness. Just recently, a National Science Board report found that the U.S. could soon be overtaken as global leader in supporting science and technology, and advocates educational improvement as crucial to America maintaining its role as the world’s engine of scientific innovation. But The State of State Science Standards, which reviews and analyzes the guidelines that inform K-12 science curriculum and instruction in every state and the District of Columbia, concludes that what states presently expect of their schools in this critical subject is woefully inadequate.
In this comprehensive appraisal, more than 75 percent of states received grades of C or lower, and a majority received D’s or F’s. California and the District of Columbia earned the only straight As—while Indiana, Massachusetts, South Carolina, and Virginia received A-’s for their excellent state science standards. But most states lack rigorous, content-rich standards. Seven of them received B-level grades; 11 states received Cs; 17 states received Ds; and 10 states received failing F grades. (COMPLETE STATE RANKINGS CAN BE VIEWED BELOW)
“If America is to remain a prosperous, scientifically-advanced and economically competitive nation, then we must ensure that every school is teaching science to a very high standard,” said Chester E. Finn, Jr., Fordham’s president. “In this subject as in others reviewed by Fordham experts, the states set the bar, prescribing what schools should teach and students need to learn. They then develop assessments keyed to those standards. If our expectations are low and unclear, we’re guaranteeing the failure of our students and the weakening of our nation.”
Leading science education experts authored this analysis, evaluating state science standards for their clarity, content completeness, and scientific correctness. Science standards are the foundation upon which a state’s system of assessment, instruction, and accountability rests. Therefore, this review analyzes the standards themselves to ensure that they’re clear, thorough, and academically demanding. It does not investigate whether science standards are being properly assessed with state tests, effectively implemented in the schools, or whether they are driving improvements in student achievement.