Maryland elementary and middle students are being tested this week in science for the first time under No Child Left Behind, a federal law that, in the minds of many educators, has squeezed science instruction to the margins of public education.Here is where my big beef with NCLB is found. It is not testing in and of itself, but the fact that the tests being used are not matched up to the educational programs. The result is that science scores, because of the over emphasis on reading and math are likely to be dismal. The resulting outcry is going to mean that schools are going to crash on getting the science scores up and neglect things like reading, math, social studies, art, music and all the rest.
The results might be sobering, top science educators said.
In five years under the Bush education mandate, the nation's elementary and middle schools have pursued reading and math achievement with zeal, frequently at the expense of science.
Many elementary schools offer half as much science instruction as they did before the law was enacted, teachers and principals said. Science and social studies, once taught separately, share time to make room for more reading and math. Some middle schools that used to offer a full year of science and social studies give a semester of each.
What I have never understood is why math is focused on only math class and why is reading almost focused solely on fiction or literature. Science utilizes both math and reading skills. Social studies is much more reading dependent. Why then must science and social studies teachers be giving the short shift for the past five years and then be subject massive pressure in the next couple of years.
The standardized testing culture does tend to overemphasize the immediate, instead of looking longer term.
Education reform is going to take a long time and while we must do all we can for today's kids, in reality the children who will benefit will be the next generation, so long as we don't screw teh pooch with our efforts now.