From the National Academy of Sciences:
The White House, with leadership from the Office of Science and Technology Policy, should encourage federal agencies, state and local governments, and others to focus resources on increasing the quality and accessibility of science education — from kindergarten through the end of a postsecondary degree (K-16) — says a new report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine.
Call to Action for Science Education: Building Opportunity for the Future says science knowledge and scientific thinking are essential for democracy and the future STEM workforce, yet science education is not the national priority it needs to be. High-quality science education gives students the opportunity to carry out investigations, analyze data, draw conclusions, and communicate results — skills that are increasingly valuable in today’s workforce and society overall.
Only 22 percent of American high school graduates are proficient in science, and the average elementary classroom devotes less than 20 minutes per day to science; 69 percent of elementary teachers say they are not well prepared to teach science. States and local communities are not delivering high-quality science education in equal measure to all — students of color and students experiencing poverty are particularly unlikely to have high-quality science education throughout K-16.
The report says Congress should include science as an indicator of academic achievement in its next reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act — and a system of assessments and indicators should provide information about the progress of schools, districts, and states. Accountability for science education, however, should not be based on single tests, but rather focus on students gaining conceptual understanding.
State departments of education should also act to include science in their accountability systems, supporting classroom instruction and tracking the availability of learning opportunities. National stakeholders in STEM education — including business, philanthropy, and nonprofits — should coordinate their advocacy, with particular attention to addressing disparities in opportunity.
Leaders of K-12 school systems and postsecondary schools should form “Alliances for STEM Opportunity.” These alliances should develop evidence-based visions and plans for improving STEM education in their areas, with specific attention to addressing disparities and high-quality learning opportunities. The federal government, philanthropic organizations, and business and industry should provide funding to these alliances to support their work — first targeting communities where a significant number of students live in poverty.
Direct to Complete Announcement
Direct to Full Text Report: Call to Action for Science Education: Building Opportunity for the Future