Chapter 5:

Elementary and Secondary Education


Highlights


The quality of mathematics and science education in the United States has been an ongoing concern of scientists, engineers, and decisionmakers. Following World War II, scientists, engineers, and mathematicians expressed grave concerns in the Bush and Steelman reports about the quality of pre-college instruction in their fields as well as the number of students who go on to college and study these subjects. They saw the curriculum as badly out of date, too broad for teachers to master—let alone students—and instruction as too passive for children to develop a genuine understanding of the key concepts and ideas in their fields. The perception of a crisis in education was further created by the launching of Sputnik in 1957 and by the publication of international comparative studies of student achievement starting in the 1970s. Pre-college math and science education is today still a national, state, and local concern. The following highlights point out that some improvements have occurred on a national scale, but that these are not uniform. Additionally, international comparisons show that U.S. achievement is especially low at the end of secondary school, well below the international average.

U.S. Achievement Compared with Other Countries

National Trends in Achievement

Advanced Course Taking by High School Students

Curriculum and Instruction

Teachers and Teaching

Alternative Forms of Schooling




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