Council Statement Underpins APS Education Lobbying Effort
The importance of improving national science and math education is especially apparent in the wake of a new TIMSS report showing marginal improvement in the science and math scores of US eighth-graders compared to their peers in other countries. And the new APS Council Statement on K-12 science and math education approved in November is an important first step in setting APS policy in this area, according to APS Public Affairs Fellow Christina Hood.
"The APS Office of Public Affairs deals with the federal government trying to promote the interest of physics," she says. "However, we are only able to talk about things that are official APS policy. The Council's statement on K-12 science and math education gives us the authorization to talk about and lobby for these issues."
The full text of the statement follows:
Policy Statement on K-12 Science and Mathematics Education
In an age of rapid technological advances, a strong educational program in science and mathematics is essential for the United States. Despite the heroic efforts of many teachers and the large investments of school districts, in too many places we currently fail to provide it. Too many citizens leave school without the scientific literacy necessary to deal with new technologies, and their far-reaching societal implications. Our country is not educating enough technologically skilled and knowledgeable workers, a situation that will compromise our competitive advantage in an increasingly global environment. Particularly in the physical sciences, too many students receive instruction from teachers insecure in their subject area knowledge.
Some progress is being made. The efforts of experts in science, mathematics, and education have yielded appropriate learning standards that are being increasingly adopted by teachers and school districts around the country as a first step toward improvement. Yet further steps are necessary. To support a vision of science and mathematics education that ensures that all students receive high quality instruction, the APS recommends that policy makers:
- Enhance support for the preparation of prospective science and mathematics teachers, particularly those programs that involve collaborative efforts of college or university departments of science and mathematics with their departments of education.
- Recognize the critical importance of professional development activities for science and mathematics teachers, particularly by increasing investment in sustained in-service programs.
- Support sustained efforts to develop and implement high quality instructional materials for science and mathematics.
- Increase research on how students learn science and mathematics, and develop and disseminate strategies and conditions that promote effective teaching, learning and appropriate assessment.
- Provide increased resources and incentives to enhance science and mathematics teacher recruitment, retention and professional status.
- Support efforts to increase the participation and achievement of under-represented groups in the sciences, mathematics and engineering to foster a strong, diverse workforce.
- Provide incentives for partnerships among the private sector, universities/colleges and school systems to develop quality educational programs.
- Support specific, targeted funding of national programs to improve the quality of science and mathematics, such as the Eisenhower Professional Development Program.
- Encourage coordination of efforts among federal agencies that provide support for K-12 science and mathematics education.
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Associate Editor: Jennifer Ouellette