Wednesday, October 26, 2011 at 3:42 p.m.
When it comes to science, you're probably smarter than a fifth grader.
Under intense pressure to increase English and math scores, California elementary schools are shoving out the subject almost entirely, a new study reports. Research from San Francisco-based think tank WestEd and UC Berkeley
reveals that only 10 percent of students in the state regularly receive quality science education. Forty percent of teachers say they spend an hour or less teaching science each week. Sixty percent of districts have no staff dedicated to elementary science.
Researchers had wondered if schools were preparing students for California's tech-driven workforce. Turns out, they are not.
On national science tests, the state's fourth-graders scored the lowest, along with students from Arizona, Mississippi and Hawaii.
For teachers, science instruction gets put on the back burner because accountability benchmarks are focused on math and reading, and also because many have little or no training in the subject. The study finds that more than 85 percent of elementary teachers have not received any science-related professional development in the last three years.
Bill Nye, the Science Guy, does not approve.
"To exclude kids in formal education from science is bad for everybody," he told the Whittier Daily News
. "I will assert that U.S. economic growth is in lockstep with science and technology and, by extension, science education."
The study concludes that California "needs a new road map for supporting science education in public schools to ensure that all students have the chance to participate in high-quality science learning opportunities that are crucial to their success and to the future of our state."