Florida Senate report calls for stronger science, math instruction
A new interim report from the Florida Senate Pre-K-12 Committee gives us a detailed explanation why the state needs to improve education in science and math. Kids aren't doing well on the tests we use to gauge their performance, it notes, and the rigor demanded of them isn't all that great.
The need, meanwhile, remains clear:
"The business and education communities have stressed the importance of a talent pool of [Science, Technology, Engineering and Math]-skilled students, instructional personnel, and workforce employees, all with the math, science, and literacy skills to effectively compete in a global economy."
When it comes to recommendations, though, the proposals are somewhat thin. They focus on such things as making instruction "relevant" and better training teachers to impart the material, while saying little about the specifics of math and science requirements to graduate from high school (though there is a decent conversation on the need to increase students' math and science literacy).
The critics have pounced.
Florida Citizens for Science: "It seems to me that the education committee didn’t do much homework. I don’t see any proposed solutions here."
FSU physics professor Paul Cottle: "Their conclusion: Don’t do anything for now – it’s too hard. Wait for all the pieces to be in place. ... Other states are setting their bars high and then scrambling to find the resources to make it possible to reach them. In contrast, the Florida Senate committee appears to be arguing that we should totally transform our science teaching corps before raising our expectations."
A bill to increase the rigor of Florida's high school graduation requirements in math and science didn't pass last year. It's expected to be back in the spring, in some form. If this is the start of the discussion, expect a lively debate.