Alexander Cites Need to Improve Science Education

Nation’s Report Card Shows Little Progress in Science

Posted on May 24, 2006

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN), chairman of the Senate Subcommittee on Education and Early Childhood Development, today said the disappointing science scores released as part of the 2005 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) illustrate the urgency for Congress to pass comprehensive competitiveness legislation this year. The results indicate that while the achievement of elementary students in science has slightly improved over the last decade, middle school achievement has remained flat and high school achievement has slightly declined. Specifically, the NAEP results show that: the achievement of elementary students in science has slightly improved over the last decade from an average score of 147 to an average score of 151; middle school achievement has remained flat at an average score of 149, and; high school achievement has slightly declined from an average score of 150 to an average score of 147. “Nations like China and India are putting a greater focus on math and science education in order to compete with the United States. We must do the same, or in twenty years we may look at the world and wonder why we aren’t the leader we are today,” said Alexander, chairman of the Senate Subcommittee on Education. “That’s why I’ve been working on the Protecting America’s Competitive Edge Act. The PACE Act will help strengthen our nation’s education systems by improving teacher training in math and science, recruiting more math and science teachers, and providing opportunities for math and science experts to fill our nation’s schools and improve the curriculum and classroom experience for school children.” Alexander co-authored the Protecting America’s Competitive Edge (PACE) Act, which was introduced in January. The PACE Act currently has 70 cosponsors – 35 Republicans and 35 Democrats – and includes K-12 science education provisions to: Provide support to universities to establish a bachelor’s degree program similar to the UTeach program at the University of Texas, Austin – which helps students who are pursuing a bachelor’s degree in math or science to also be certified as teachers. Provide scholarships of up to $20,000 per year for undergraduate students to attend a program like the UTeach program. Provide support to universities to establish a master’s degree program for current teachers who need to strengthen their skills in math or science. Provide a $10,000 fellowship for teachers who have participated in either of the above degree programs, teach for five years, and meet other criteria. Establish short-term summer academies for 50,000 teachers each year at national laboratories and universities. Increase the number of students to 1.5 million who can attend Advanced Placement courses and take the test to receive college credit. Provide grants to states to establish high schools specializing in math and science that will attract more students to these subjects. Provide opportunities for middle and high school students to have internships or participate in other education programs at national laboratories and other technology and scientific research facilities. Create a clearinghouse of math and science materials to disseminate high quality information to states and school districts.