Can science build the United States a better science teacher?

Science education in the United States is suffering. What would it take to bring it back to life?
Written by Rose Eveleth, Contributing Editor

The statistics about science education in the United States are striking. The country ranked 11th in the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study. Singapore came in first. Only 32 percent of eighth graders in the United States are proficient in science. About 35 percent are proficient in math.

Can science help us build a better science teacher? No, I don't mean literally. The days of bionic teachers aren't quite upon us. Yet. But what would it take to jump start our science education system? Are teachers even really the answer?

On that last question, all signs point to yes. Scientific American writes:

In recent years a mounting stack of research has shown that a good teacher is the single most important variable in boosting student achievement in every subject. A good teacher trumps such factors as socioeconomic status, class size, curriculum design and parents' educational levels. Stanford University's Eric Hanushek showed that students of highly effective teachers make about three times the academic gains of those with less talented teachers, regardless of the students' demographics.

So how does one build the best science teacher there can be? Well, it will take a lot. Money, time, effort, buy in. All the things that effective reform require. Scientific American outlines the steps in more detail here. But some wonder if all hope is lost. Others are confident we'll find a way. Scientific American concludes:

There is no doubt that the cause is creating heat and light, and its advocates insist that this time around, we will see real progress. “We know this is necessary, and we know this is possible, and it's not happening enough for enough kids,” says Talia Milgrom-Elcott, who is managing STEM teacher initiatives for Carnegie. “We can do this by activating enough people around the country to make a decision to join us with their own resources, expertise and local knowledge. We can work together to reach this goal.”

Via: Scientific American


This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com

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