U.S. up in math, down in science
The United States got mixed news this morning, with international test scores showing its students gaining ground on their global peers in math, but falling slightly in science.
Between 2003 and 2007, the United States moved from No. 12 in fourth-grade math and No. 10 in eighth-grade math to No. 9 and No. 6, respectively.
Meanwhile, it fell from No. 4 to No. 5 in fourth-grade science, and No. 8 to No. 10 in eighth-grade science.
The Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study, better known as TIMSS, is given to a sampling of fourth- and eight-graders around the world every four years. For the 2007 results that came out today, 36 countries participated in the fourth-grade test and 48 in the eighth-grade test.
U.S. Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings immediately gave credit for the math gains to No Child Left Behind.
“I am encouraged that U.S. students are improving, and particularly that many children who once were left behind are now making some of the greatest gains in math,” she said in a written statement. “But flat science scores and increasing competition remind us that we can’t afford to be complacent.”
The National Science Teachers Association was more critical, calling the overall science results discouraging and the scores for minority students “dismal.”
“Over the last 10 years numerous reports have told us how stakeholders can and must work together to increase student achievement in science,” it said in a press release. “In spite of these reports, many districts simply do not value science education. Science is being eliminated from many K-6 classrooms. Science teachers, especially at the elementary level, need better quality professional development and more classroom materials.”
Ron Matus, State Education Reporter