Testing Science

scienceWhen you are on the road, you can not avoid CNN. It’s in the Airport. CNN, and its ilk, comprise at least 80% of the TV channels in most hotels (trying to get you to resort to their $12 movies on demand).

The other day, I was working on a presentation in the airport when I overheard are report that ran something like this,

The Bush administration is now adding Science to the accountability standards for the No Child Left Behind legislation. Schools are already held accountable for the tested performance of students in reading and math, but schools will now risk punishment of their students do not perform to standards in science.

Now, that was a rough paraphrasing, but there are two things about this report that bother and worry me. Number one was the impression that including science was a recent idea of the Administration, when phasing in science has been a part of NCLB all along. But that’s petty.

The second part worries me. It worries me that schools are going to be held accountable for

how much science students learn,
not how much like scientists students learn to become.

Certainly, students need to be learning science. But in a time of rapid change and an information environment that is increasingly being dominated by blogs and other forms of less formally validated content, the scientific method should become a Basic Skills. Students must learn (relearn) to be curious, to inquire, to make hypotheses, to research, investigate, and test their ideas, and to act on what they learn and teach themselves.

Many states have worked higher order elements of reading and math into their NCLB mandated tests. But with continuing budget constraints (some of my readers will deny that the budget cuts exist), the trend will likely lean more toward recall style testing, leading to regimented, fact-based teaching.

I don’t think that this is the way to encourage more children to become scientists and engineers.

2¢ Worth

Author: David Warlick

David Warlick has been an educator for the past 40+ years. He continues to do some writing, but is mostly seeking his next intersect between play, passion and purpose, dabbling in photography, drone videography and music production.