Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Science Education: US Students Gain a Bit, but Still Lag

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Science Education: US Students Gain a Bit, but Still Lag

Article excerpt

The Nation's Report Card is here, and the results are a mixed bag.

Girls and minority students have made modest improvements in science classes, according to the 2015 National Assessment of Educational Progress, but most US students still struggle in STEM. The report, released Thursday, found that only about a third of fourth and eighth graders showed "strong academic performance" in the sciences. And among high school seniors, just one in five demonstrated proficiency.

"We still are not at a place as a country where we are preparing the future STEM workforce that we need," Education Secretary John B. King Jr. said. "We think there's significant work still to do, but we are heartened by the progress that we see in these results."

While science exam scores have remained stagnant for 12th graders, younger students have made some noticeable gains. Fourth and eighth graders scored four points higher than they did in 2009, the report finds.

The study also finds that on average, fourth-grade girls performed as well as their male counterparts in science. Boys still lead among eighth graders, but the gender gap appears to be tightening.

Black and Hispanic students made greater improvements than white students in 2015, narrowing the achievement gap among students of all ethnic backgrounds, said Peggy Carr, acting commissioner for the National Center for Education Statistics.

In May, Olivia Lowenberg reported for The Christian Science Monitor:

One study conducted in California in 2012 shows that of those African-American and Latino students who enrolled in eighth grade Algebra I, just 29 percent of African-American and 37 percent of Latino students reached proficiency. This is definitely not for lack of motivation, the study points out; these students just have not been given the same access to rigorous coursework and preparatory materials as their white and Asian peers. …

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