"A child's learning is the function more of the characteristics of his classmates than those of the teacher." James Coleman, 1972

Monday, June 04, 2012

Science Education: We can do even better

Sent to USA Today, June 4, 2012

Rising scores on the national (NAEP) science test are indeed reasons to “Quit fretting. U.S. is fine in science education” (June 3).

But we can make more progress: The average score for students not eligible for free and reduced price lunch was 164, just below the demanding proficient level (170), Those eligible for free/reduced lunch averaged 137, just below the basic level (141).

This is no surprise: Our middle class students who attend well-funded schools score at the top of the world on international tests. Our overall scores are less than spectacular because of our high rate of poverty, now 23%, highest in the industrialized world. Poverty means food deprivation, lack of health care, and lack of reading material, which all contribute strongly to poor school performance.

Let’s take some of the billions spent on testing and invest it in improved food programs, better health care, and libraries.

Stephen Krashen
Professor Emeritus, University of Southern California


American students in well-funded schools …

Berliner, D. The Context for Interpreting PISA Results in the USA: Negativism,
Chauvinism, Misunderstanding, and the Potential to Distort the Educational Systems of Nations. In Pereyra, M., Kottoff, H-G., & Cowan, R. (Eds.). PISA under examination: Changing knowledge, changing tests, and changing schools. Amsterdam: Sense Publishers. In press.
Bracey, G. 2009. Education Hell: Rhetoric vs. Reality. Educational Research Service
Payne, K. and Biddle, B. 1999. Poor school funding, child poverty, and mathematics
achievement. Educational Researcher 28 (6): 4-13.

Poverty and hunger, health and access to books:

Berliner, D. 2009. Poverty and Potential: Out-of-School Factors and School Success. Boulder and Tempe: Education and the Public Interest Center & Education Policy Research Unit. http://epicpolicy.org/publication/poverty-and-potential
Krashen, S. 1997. Bridging inequity with books. Educational Leadership 55(4): 18-22.

Original article: http://www.usatoday.com/news/opinion/forum/story/2012-06-03/science-math-education-us-schools/55363868/1

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous10:59 PM

    I agree, we can do better by our SMET students, and students in general. If our students are not only being judged by their socio-economic status, but by their lower than average test scores, then we are doing a poor job of securing our future.

    How exactly is a child supposed to feel knowing that they are judged on almost every level against one another, and then on top of that, against other countries children. If you think the children do not know, your mistaken because they do.

    The children who attend better schools, and have parents that make more money or have other advantages will of course fair better statistically, but even their scores are not up to par. Have we become accustomed to mediocrity?

    To rise above the mediocre, we should invest in libraries, social services and health care....as well as....the arts and physical education. Education in the United States will always be lacking something as long as we are trading one facet of a well rounded education for another.

    Test scores do not mean everything, but they do speak highly of a student's test taking skills. They are not an appropriate view of what a child has learned or retained in the way they are used today.

    A more appropriate use of tests would be as ongoing assessments in collaboration with other forms of assessment. A more appropriate use of already limited funding would be on teacher salaries and professional development, books, materials, school buildings, and retrieving the arts from the dumpster NCLB put them in.