U.S. Education: Failing in Science?

By Raloff, Janet | Science News, March 12, 1988 | Go to article overview

U.S. Education: Failing in Science?


Raloff, Janet, Science News


U.S. education: Failing in science?

U.S. science and math education at the primary and secondary levels is foundering, according to two new surveys released last week by the National Science Foundation. Preliminary results from one survey comparing students' science and math achievement in 17 countries ranked U.S. students fair to poor. A second U.S.-only study identified worrisome trends in both the nation's teaching practices and its science-teacher education.

The multi-nation study, conducted by the International Association for the Evaluation of Educational Achievement, an association of research centers, compared students' performance on special standardized tests at the roughly fifth-, ninth- and twelfth-grade levels. The study looked at approximately 150 students at each of these levels in each country. While U.S. fifth-graders ranked eighth among 15 responding nations, U.S. ninth-graders tied with those in Thailand and Singapore for fourteenth place in a field of 17 responding nations.

But these are grade levels at which all students are taking the same courses. What about the high-achieving science "specialists"-- high school seniors taking an optional second year of advanced biology, chemistry or physics? Among the 13 countries responding--Australia, English-speaking Canada, England, Finland, Hong Kong, Hungary, Italy, Japan, Norway, Poland, Singapore, Sweden and the United States--U.S. students placed last in biology, eleventh in chemistry and ninth in physics.

What should concern U.S. education policymakers, says Richard N. Wolf of Teachers College at Columbia University in New York City, who was one of the survey's two U.S. coordinators, is "this apparent progressive decline" in science achievement: from the middle-ranking younger grades -- which include even below-average students -- to older science specialists.

Bill C. Aldridge, executive director of the Washington, D.C.-based National Science Teachers Association, describes the low rankings given the best U.S. science students as "pretty distressing." Nevertheless, he says, their international standing "is very easy to understand if you look at the other [nations'] curricula." Topping the survey's list for twelfth-grade science specialists were Hong Kong, England and Singapore--nations where these students take only science and math courses. Such curricula are in sharp contrast to a more varied training given U.S. students. (Wolf, who studied this "two-cultures phenomenon" in British Commonwealth countries, says he found that by offering only literature or science in upper grades, "you often had scientists who were illiterate or humanists who were innumerate.")

But most science-education analysts don't think course offerings explain the whole disparity in scores. Many point to other potential cofactors described in the U.S. study involving 6,156 teachers, authored by Iris Weiss, formerly with Research Triangle Institute in Research Triangle Park, N. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

U.S. Education: Failing in Science?
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.