2006 Philadelphia Annual Meeting (22–25 October 2006)

Paper No. 1
Presentation Time: 1:30 PM


SLATTERY, William, Geological Sciences and Teacher Education, Wright State Univ, Dayton, OH 45435, william.slattery@wright.edu

Science education in the United States underwent successive waves of reform during the twentieth century. For instance, hands-on science was advocated in the nineteen-thirties, and then was replaced by a more conceptual, fact driven curriculum until the United States was shocked to wake one morning to discover that the Soviet Union has succeeded in launching Sputnik in 1958. National commissions were organized to review the science curriculum and make recommendations that they believed would lead to American superiority in technology and science. The focus of this wave of reform was the preparation future scientists, not the development of a scientifically literate citizenry.

Another round of educational reforms began in the nineteen-nineties, leading to the publication of the National Science Education Standards (NSES). This document called for scientific literacy for all citizens and raised Earth and Space science to an equal partnership with the Physical and Life sciences. It also included a comprehensive strategy for accomplishing educational reform, from science content scope and sequence, to classroom teaching strategies and teacher professional development. A decade after the publication of the NSES some states have extensive opportunities for K-12 students to take courses in the Earth and Space sciences, while others have little or none.

This latest wave of reform coincided with the rise of mandated high-stakes testing of K-12 students. Some states, such as Ohio, based their statewide science testing on the content and process in the NSES. Suddenly, Earth and Space science went from having no required place in the Ohio school curriculum to being required at every K-12 grade level. Earth and Space Science questions make up a significant portion of the science questions on the new Ohio Graduation Test. Ohio has also changed from certification of pre-service K-12 teachers to a more stringent licensure standard. Wright State University has hired joint appointment science educators and developed new courses expressly for K-12 teachers to reflect the requirements of the NSES and the more stringent state requirements for pre-service K-12 teacher preparation.