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If students struggle with science, the country is in deep…

Posted by Bert Maes on January 26, 2011

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Most American students aren’t “proficient” in science, according to the new National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) report.

  • Only 34% in fourth grade (9-10 years)
  • 30%  in eighth (13-14 years)
  • and 21% in 12th grade (17-18 years) scored proficient or higher

That means that less than one-half of students are demonstrating solid academic performance and competency in science.

Forty percent of students in twelfth grade lack basic skills in physical science, life science, and Earth and space sciences. Only one percent of high school seniors have the advanced science knowledge and skills that lead to careers in science and technology.

Science helps students further their understanding of our world, enabling them to connect ideas across disciplines and making them better problem solvers,” David Driscoll, chairman of the National Assessment Governing Board (which oversees policy for NAEP), commented. The state of science education is troubling because, increasingly, making personal choices, like whether to vaccinate children or how much energy to use, requires an understanding of science, educators say. Some are convinced that science is the basis of almost everything. President Obama once said: “the problems we face as a nation are, at root, scientific problems.

But it seems that we are not focused enough on science and especially not on more advanced subject matter. We give less intense attention to advanced content regarded as fundamental by many other countries. We might pay a very high price as a society for that lack of focus.

Is it surprising than that we offshore labor?

High-tech American companies opting to hire offshore labor are doing so because of a shortage of skilled workers, not anymore a desire to save on labor costs, a new study by Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business says.

Most American high-tech/telecom companies engaged in offshoring say the domestic shortage and scarcity of skilled workers — not cost cutting — is the primary reason why they move some job functions overseas.

There they can find the technical profiles in research and development, as well as administrative and sales/marketing specialists. Looks like we are losing our science and technology service jobs as well… Our service jobs will be offshored next, expert says in new book.

Then what??

And what do you think about this?? The report “An American Imperative: Transforming the Recruitment, Retention and Renewal of our Nation’s Mathematics and Science Teaching Workforce” found that students who face economic disadvantages are more likely to have unqualified or minimally qualified math and science teachers…

Conclusion: Science and Manufacturing educators need every scrap of support!

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5 Responses to “If students struggle with science, the country is in deep…”

  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by John Pullin and Bert Maes, Bert Maes. Bert Maes said: New Blog Post: If students struggle with #science, the country is in deep…: […]

  2. Todd said

    We have huge problems in science education (and math, and technology) because of the way we approach science education (and math, and technology). It’s not a problem our education leaders will ever solve by themselves. They’re simply too steeped in a generations-old model. We’ll have to do it ourselves.

    You’re doing great work here, Bert. I’m working on some of the same problem, from a different angle. Would be delighted to visit with you about it some time.

    • Bert Maes said

      Thanks for comment, Todd. I appreciate it a lot.
      What would you change in science education? How would your “generations-new” model look like?

      • Todd said

        Bert, I’m working with some colleagues to create a very streamlined, very focused approach to teaching electronics. Essentially, we’re proposing to “distribute” the process out of the classroom by providing practical, hands-on education at a distance.

        It releases the friction of capital requirements from the schools, while providing a high level of electronics training that applies directly to the real world in areas like automation.

        I think my email will post with this reply. I’ll be glad to get into more detail regarding our concept. And I’d most appreciate the chance to learn your perspective, especially as it relates to issues and opportunities you encounter via HTEC.

      • Bert Maes said

        Sounds interesting and promising, Todd!
        I’d be very pleased if you could send more concept details to

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