The test that every four years makes Americans feel bad about the kids these days, the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study, is out with new results, not all of them bad: Fourth- and eighth-graders appear to be improving in math, and bottom performers made the most gains.
But in both grades, Americans remain stagnant in the (much less tested) subject of science. This is a good time to ask whether science gets enough attention. From the Christian Science Monitor:
The US still performs better in science than the average among TIMSS countries, but the lack of progress underscores what some educators and others say is a pressing need to give more attention to science education in this country, in addition to the emphasis on reading and math.
In spite of numerous reports, “many districts simply do not value science education,” reads a statement released Tuesday by the National Science Teachers Association in Virginia. “Science is being eliminated from many K-6 classrooms,” it says.
Recall that the city Department of Education recently rolled out new science curriculum in response to concerns that science was being sidelined in favor of tested subjects. But it then delayed creating tests to match the curriculum — for two years in a row.
The results are also a good reminder that, no matter how frustrating it is that American students are behind several nations, they are not behind everyone — not by far. From the Washington Post:
Students in Singapore, China and Japan outperformed U.S. fourth-graders in science. So did students in the Chinese region of Hong Kong, counted as a separate participant. The U.S. students had an average score of 539 on a 1,000-point scale, higher than peers in 25 countries.
In eighth grade, students in nine countries earned higher average scores than their U.S. counterparts. Singapore topped the list with an average score of 567, with China, Japan, South Korea, England, Hungary and Russia among the countries where students earned higher marks. The average score in the United States was 520.