Brace yourself for some shocking statistics. In California:
- Only 44 percent of elementary school principals think it is likely that their students would get strong science instruction in their schools.
- Only one third of elementary teachers feel prepared to teach science.
- Forty percent say they spend less than an hour a week teaching science.
- A whopping 85 percent say they haven't received any professional development in science in the past three years.
These are among the findings of a new study on the state of science education in California. The authors note that the state's 4th grade science scores (PDF) place it near the bottom of the nation. They speculate that the state's accountability system, which focuses mostly on math and reading, has drawn schools' attention away from science.
The problem isn't limited to California. The national Schools and Staffing Survey found that, in the U.S. as a whole, elementary teachers on average spent 2.3 hours a week on science in 2008, a big drop from the three hour average in 1994. Parhaps not as dire as California, but bad enough.
if states adopt Common Standards in science--and if common tests follow, as many believe they will--schools may well have to reassess how much time they spend on science..