Study: Science pushed out of California elementary schools

Well, this can’t bode well for the rest of us, as California tends to set trends.  From the San Jose Mercury News, by way of NSTA WebNews Digest:

California’s elementary schools spend too little time teaching science as volcano models and germination kits vanish to focus more on English and math, a new statewide study says.

And when science is taught, classroom teachers feel unprepared, the study found. More than four-fifths of teachers think the emphasis on English and math has hampered science teaching, according to the survey that sampled hundreds of administrators and teachers. […]

Among the study’s findings:

  • 44 percent of principals think it is likely that a student would receive high-quality science instruction at their schools.
  • 40 percent of elementary teachers spend 60 minutes or less on science instruction each week.
  • 10 percent of elementary classrooms offer high-quality science learning.
  • 60 percent of districts have no staff dedicated to elementary science.
  • More than 85 percent of elementary teachers received no science-related professional development in the past three years.

California’s test scores reflect its lack of attention to science. In national tests, the state’s fourth-graders ranked at the bottom, along with students from Alabama, Mississippi and Hawaii. Performance is worse for Latino and African-American students. Fewer than 10 percent scored proficient or above on national science tests.

California sets no minimum for how much time elementary schools spend teaching science, although science curriculum publishers suggest 90 to 135 minutes per week.

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