bypass top and left hand navigationNational Science Board   HOME     PDF     SEARCH     HELP     COMMENTS  
Science and Engineering Indicators 2004
  Table of Contents     Figures     Tables     Appendix Tables     Presentation Slides  
Chapter 1:
Student Performance in Mathematics and Science
Mathematics and Science Coursework and Student Achievement
Curriculum Standards and Statewide Assessments
Curriculum and Instruction
Teacher Quality
Teacher Induction, Professional Development, and Working Conditions
Information Technology in Schools
Transition to Higher Education

Elementary and Secondary Education

PDFPrint this chapter (319K)
Student Performance in Mathematics and Science top of page
  • Student performance in mathematics and science, as measured by the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), has improved somewhat over the past 3 decades, but not consistently. Improvements have occurred across all racial/ethnic subgroups. (More...)

  • Despite the improved performance overall, achievement gaps between various racial/ethnic subgroups persist and have shown no signs of narrowing since 1990. For example, in NAEP's 2000 mathematics assessment of grade 12 students, 74 percent of white students and 80 percent of Asian/Pacific Islander students scored at or above a level deemed basic by a national panel of experts. In contrast, 31 percent of blacks, 44 percent of Hispanics, and 57 percent of American Indians/Alaskan Natives attained this level. (More...)

  • Achievement gaps between males and females have largely disappeared, especially in mathematics. For example, in tests administered by the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) in 2000, 15-year-old male and female students scored equally well in both mathematics and science literacy. (More...)

  • U.S. students are performing at or below the levels attained by students in other countries in the developed world. U.S. students' performance on PISA was about average among Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries. Seven countries (Australia, Canada, Finland, Japan, New Zealand, South Korea, and the United Kingdom) had higher scores in both mathematics and science. Six countries recorded lower scores in both subjects: Brazil, Greece, Latvia, Luxembourg, Mexico, and Portugal. (More...)

  • In international comparisons, U.S. student performance becomes increasingly weaker at higher grade levels. Third International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS), U.S. 9-year-olds scored above the international average; 13-year-olds, near the average; and 17-year-olds, below it. On advanced mathematics and science assessments, U.S. students who had taken advanced coursework in these subjects performed poorly compared with their counterparts in other countries. (More...)

Mathematics and Science Coursework and Student Achievement top of page
  • Since the publication of A Nation At Risk 20 years ago, many states and school systems have increased their graduation requirements, including those for mathematics and science. (More...)

  • Students are taking more science and mathematics courses in high school than their counterparts did in the past. 1998, high school graduates earned an average of 3.5 mathematics credits and 3.2 science credits compared with 2.6 and 2.2 credits, respectively, in 1982. (More...)

  • The proportion of high school graduates completing advanced mathematics and science coursework also increased over this period. More students have been taking algebra in grade 8, better preparing them for more advanced coursework later in high school. (More...)

Curriculum Standards and Statewide Assessments top of page
  • The No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act of 2001 requires states to immediately set standards in mathematics and reading/language arts, and to set standards in science by academic year 2005. By 2002, nearly all states had established standards in these three subjects. (More...)

  • Building on the testing requirements included in the 1994 reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, the NCLB Act requires periodic assessments in mathematics and science and mandates consequences for poor school and student performance. States have developed a range of rewards, supports, and sanctions based on student test scores. (More...)

Curriculum and Instruction top of page
  • Analyses of U.S. textbooks and curricula in science and mathematics indicate that more topics are covered, and with less coherence, in the United States than in other countries. U.S. textbooks are longer and cover more topics, but do not generally cover topics more thoroughly, and the curricula often repeat content over more grades. (More...)

  • According to a 1995 TIMSS video study, U.S. mathematics lessons generally scored lower on various measures of lesson difficulty than lessons in some other countries, notably Japan. However, a 1999 TIMSS-R video study, which did not include Japan, found that lesson difficulty in the U.S. was comparable to that in the five other countries that participated. (More...)

Teacher Quality top of page
  • Some evidence suggests that college graduates who enter the teaching profession tend to have weaker academic skills. Data from the 2001 Baccalaureate and Beyond Longitudinal Study indicate that recent college graduates who taught or prepared to teach were underrepresented among graduates with college entrance examination scores in the top quartile. (More...)

  • Teaching out of field (teachers teaching subjects outside their areas of subject-matter training and certification) is not uncommon. In academic year 1999, 9 percent of public high school students enrolled in mathematics classes, 10 percent enrolled in biology/life sciences classes, and 16 percent of students enrolled in physical sciences classes received instruction from teachers who had neither certification nor a major or minor in the subject they taught. Comparable figures for public middle school students were higher. (More...)

  • The proportion of relatively new teachers is slightly higher in science and mathematics than in other subjects. Research indicates that inexperienced teachers are generally less effective than more senior teachers. (More...)

  • High-poverty and high-minority schools both had a higher proportion of inexperienced science teachers than low-poverty and low-minority schools. Moreover, these teachers were less likely than other new science teachers to participate in induction programs, which might help them adjust to their new responsibilities. Neither of these findings held true in mathematics, however. (More...)

Teacher Induction, Professional Development, and Working Conditions top of page
  • A large majority of new mathematics and science teachers in public middle and high schools reported that they felt well prepared to teach mathematics and science in their first year of teaching. Teachers who participated in induction and mentoring programs were even more likely to feel well prepared. (More...)

  • In recent years, beginning teachers' salaries have risen at a faster rate than the salaries of all teachers. However, beginning teachers receive substantially lower salaries than the average starting salary offered to new college graduates in other occupations. In academic year 1999, salaries for mathematics and science teachers were similar to those for other teachers. Mathematics and science teachers in high-poverty public high schools earned less than their counterparts in low-poverty schools. (More...)

Information Technology in Schools top of page
  • Almost all students now study in schools and classrooms with computers and at least some form of Internet access. By fall 2001, an estimated 99 percent of public schools and 87 percent of instructional rooms had Internet connections. This represents a dramatic increase over 1994, when the comparable figures were 35 and 3 percent, respectively. Continuing differences in school access for students in different demographic groups concern student-computer ratios, teacher preparation for using information technologies (IT), and ways in which teachers use IT. These issues go beyond mere access to encompass quality and effectiveness in IT use. (More...)

  • Teachers cite inadequate teacher training as one barrier to effective IT use but rate other barriers as equally important. These other barriers included lack of release time, lack of scheduled time for students to use computers, insufficient computers, lack of good instructional software, outdated computers with slow processors, and difficulty accessing the Internet connection. New teachers felt better prepared to use IT than did their more experienced colleagues. (More...)

  • Students' access to computers and the Internet at home is much more unequally distributed than their access at school. According to 2001 data, home access to computers is nearly universal among children ages 10 to 17 in the highest income category, but limited to only about one-third of children in the lowest income category. As a result, reliance on school alone for access to computers is common for children in the lowest income category, but rare in the highest income category. Racial and ethnic differences in home access to computers and the Internet are also substantial. (More...)

Transition to Higher Education top of page
  • The percentage of high school graduates who enrolled in postsecondary education immediately after graduation increased from 47 percent in 1973 to 62 percent in 2001. The immediate enrollment rate increased more for females than for males, and more for blacks than for whites. Rates for Hispanics remained relatively constant between 1973 and 2001, resulting in a widening gap between Hispanics and whites. (More...)

  • Many college freshmen apparently lack adequate preparation for higher education; thus, remedial coursetaking is widespread, especially at 2-year institutions. In 2000, undergraduate enrollment in remedial classes accounted for 12 percent of mathematics enrollment in 4-year institutions and 55 percent in 2-year institutions. (More...)

Previous Page Top Of Page Next Page