APS News

Council: Include Science in Standardized Tests

At its meeting on April 27, the APS Council approved a statement dealing with mandated programs of educational assessment. These programs, in which standardized tests are administered to students in various subjects, are an integral component of the Bush Administration's plan for education reform. Where implemented they have usually included only tests of reading and mathematics in grades K-8.

The Council emphasized that, where such programs exist, science must be included. The statement points out the importance of good science education, and goes on to say that "assessment influences what is taught, both in terms of hours spent and in the nature of classroom activity." The Council statement also stresses that any testing or assessment should be designed to motivate teaching methods that present science as more than a body of facts.

"Like it or not, mandated tests are a growing part of the educational picture in this country " said Helen Quinn of Stanford Linear Accelerator Center, a member of Council who played a key role in drafting the statement. "Many teachers have told me that they are expected and even required by their districts to focus much of their teaching on preparation for these tests. If we want any science taught at all in the elementary and middle grades then we must argue for the inclusion of science in the mandates. Further we must work towards a system of assessment such that test preparation and good science education become synonymous."

The complete text of the statement follows:

Science must be included in any mandated program of educational assessment. Science, well learned, is a requirement for the workforce of the 21st Century as well as for informed citizenship. Further, it is well documented that assessment influences what is taught, both in terms of hours spent and in the nature of classroom activity. Any testing or assessment should be designed so that it not only encourages time spent on science but also motivates teaching methods that recognize that science is more than a body of facts. Students must also learn the methods of observation and experimentation and the modes of thinking that are used to discover and test scientific knowledge.

©1995 - 2016, AMERICAN PHYSICAL SOCIETY
APS encourages the redistribution of the materials included in this newspaper provided that attribution to the source is noted and the materials are not truncated or changed.

Editor: Alan Chodos
Associate Editor: Jennifer Ouellette