Taking Science to School
New report suggests major changes to boost K-8 science achievement
Improving science education in kindergarten through eight grade will require major changes in how science is taught in America's classrooms, as well as shifts in commonly held views of what young children know and how they learn, says a new report from the National Research Council (NRC), part of the private, non-profit U.S. National Academies.
According to the report, compiled by a 14-member committee of experts in education and learning, today's standards are too broad and result in superficial coverage of science that fails to link concepts or develop them over successive grades. It also says teachers need more opportunities to learn how to teach science as an integrated whole and to diverse student populations. Teacher preparation and professional development should focus on boosting teachers' knowledge of science, how students learn the subject, and methods and technologies that aid in science learning for all, the report says.
The committee found the commonly held view that young children are simplistic thinkers is outmoded. Instead, studies show that children think in surprisingly sophisticated ways. All children, the report says, have basic reasoning skills, personal knowledge of the natural world and curiosity that teachers can build on to achieve proficiency in science.
The report also urges education leaders, policymakers, researchers, and school administrators to tackle gaps in science achievement among different student groups, including those between white students and non-Asian minority students and between economically advantaged and disadvantaged students.
The study was sponsored by the National Science Foundation, the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, and the Merck Institute for Science Education.
Read the full NRC release at http://www8.nationalacademies.org/onpinews/newsitem.aspx?RecordID=11625.
The National Science Foundation (NSF) is an independent federal agency that supports fundamental research and education across all fields of science and engineering. In fiscal year (FY) 2016, its budget is $7.5 billion. NSF funds reach all 50 states through grants to nearly 2,000 colleges, universities and other institutions. Each year, NSF receives more than 48,000 competitive proposals for funding and makes about 12,000 new funding awards. NSF also awards about $626 million in professional and service contracts yearly.
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