22 July 2007

Math First...Science Sometime

As a result of some recommendations made by a state level commission, Washington is in the process of re-examining its math and science standards. These documents had been reviewed in the past, but the goal now is to make them comparable to international standards. The math review is complete and the verdict is that the math goals are too low. Other conclusions by the review team included that Washington standards are too much on the concept side and not enough on the basic facts side of the math world. In addition, the standards are a mile wide and an inch deep---they have not been truly boiled down to what's essential. Currently, nearly 40% of tenth grade students are unable to meet the standards in math.

Fewer students are able to meet the standards in science. I am cringing as I await the review of those standards and what that may mean. My hunch is that there will be some similar conclusions as with math---not enough "beef." Science is a bit of a red-headed step-child in all of this. Kids have to meet the standards in 2013, just as they will for math, and yet all of the attention and focus is on boosting math scores...which have a lot shorter road to travel than science. I'm not sure when people are going to start panicking about science, but it's already getting to be too late.


Hugh O'Donnell said...

That report seems congruent with the earlier discussion we had about math students moving to quickly into higher level courses without a firm grounding in "the basics."

How many ways do the state people have to hear it to get it?

The Science Goddess said...

We'll find out. :)

In our state, there's a lot of "Left Hand---meet Right Hand" kinds of things going on (finally). Too many groups have been working independently, so nothing meshes well.

Dr Pezz said...

Is your district doing anything proactively to help students meet science goals?

The Science Goddess said...

We have been working to adopt and align instructional materials with the standards and are starting to look at assessments. But where the rubber really meets the road is instruction---and as long as we have elementary principals directing teachers not to teach science (in favour of literacy and math), we're setting kids up for failure. This is just starting to change, but we will also need to work on helping many teachers in becoming more effective with their instruction.