Urban student performance on the NAEP science assessment made national headlines yesterday. The obvious response is to call for more attention to how schools are teaching science. How will such calls fare when the next math or reading assessment is released, with similarly disappointing scores for our nation's most underserved students?
We absolutely should improve science teaching in the classroom, and the folks at NSTA, AAAS, and many other places are trying to do that. To truly transform achievement, though, will take a larger effort. It starts with accepting the scientific process as something that children can understand and use. The next step is to give them time to use it - in after-school programs, museums, parks, etc. Finally, these opportunities must be extended to those students who may not get such experiences from home.
I recommend two things: 1) Don't let these headlines be a flash in the pan. 2) Don't place all the burden for a solution on our teachers and schools. The whole community can be part of scientific learning.