COMMENTARY: California must prioritize science education to stay competitive – EdSource

by | Sep 8, 2022 | Education

CREDIT: Stephanie Pollick / Partnership for Children and YouthA student at the East Bay Asian Local Development Corporation Lion’s Pride Afterschool Program during a science class. CREDIT: Stephanie Pollick / Partnership for Children and YouthA student at the East Bay Asian Local Development Corporation Lion’s Pride Afterschool Program during a science class. Niu Gao and Kathy DiRannaSeptember 8, 2022Living through a global pandemic while facing the consequences of climate change has underscored the need for science literacy. What’s more, robust and equitable science education is not only essential to a fully functioning democracy, it is crucial for preparing our future workforce and paving the way to well-paying employment. However, science has long been a low priority in California K–12 schools, and the Covid pandemic has disrupted efforts to ensure that all students receive a quality science education.The US lags behind other developed countries in science education, and California ranks near the bottom of states on the National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP) in science. On the 2015 NAEP (the latest state comparisons available), average science test scores in California were well below the national average. Only one in four 4th and 8th graders were proficient — a share that has been unchanged for years. California also has the largest science achievement gaps by race/ethnicity and family income.
In 2013, the State Board of Education laid the groundwork to transform science teaching by adopting the California Next Generation Science Standards (CA NGSS). These standards have the potential to improve students’ conceptual understanding of science, promote science literacy, and strengthen the global competitiveness of California’s workforce.
Districts were in the early stages of implementing the new science standards when Covid-19 hit, abruptly changing every facet of the education landscape. A recent Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC) report shows that disruptions from the pandemic could affect science education for years to come. This report finds that:
Before spring 2020, implementation of the Californi …

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