Knowing More – and Less – About Science
U.S. eighth graders did slightly better last year on a national science test than did their counterparts in 2009. But what that result says about the state of science in U.S. schools is open to debate. A 2-point rise to 152 (on a scale from 0 to 300) is part of what Jack Buckley, head of the National Center for Education Statistics, calls the “uniformly positive” results from the 2011 Science National Assessment of Educational Progress at Grade 8. The pronounced racial gap in scores narrowed by a small but significant amount, says Buckley, from 36 points to 35 points for white students compared with black students, and from 30 to 27 for white students compared with Hispanic students. And all three groups did better. At the same time, he notes that the gap in scores between boys and girls grew from 4 to 5 points. However, some science educators strongly disagree with Buckley’s self-declared “optimism” that things are moving in the right direction.