Californians are asking questions and we’re providing answers...
✓ Are students scientifically literate?
The most current and reliable data on student achievement and the status of the science teaching workforce
✓ Do Californians care?
Public opinion research measuring knowledge of and attitudes towards science education in California
✓ What do teachers think?
A series of statewide educator surveys examining science instruction, teacher preparation, instructional leadership, district policies, climate, and support structures for science education
✓ What works well and why?
Case studies of elementary programs that offer opportunities for students to learn science in powerful and effective ways
✓ Why do students fall through the cracks?
Analysis of high school preparation, university admissions and course taking tracing the path of students from kindergarten through college
✓ How can we change a failing system?
Development of data-driven policy recommendations to strengthen science teaching and learning
✓ Who will be part of the solution?
Targeted dissemination of the research findings and policy recommendations to those who can make a difference
Scientific literacy holds the key to California’s future. For our children, their natural curiosity and passion for discovery—the foundation of scientific literacy—opens doors essential to their educational development and full participation in the world beyond the classroom. Unfortunately, too few of California’s students have access to high quality learning opportunities in science. Student achievement is woefully low and preliminary data indicate that science education is of inconsistent and often poor quality. Teachers report they are not prepared to teach the subject, resources are scarce, and students spend too little time learning science. There is little in the way of meaningful support for and commitment to teaching science well. California must do better.
To address this problem, the Center for the Future of Teaching and Learning at WestEd partnered with a team of education and policy researchers in an important initiative to strengthen science teaching and student learning in California. With a cornerstone grant provided by the S.D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation, Strengthening Science Education in California brings together the UC Berkeley Lawrence Hall of Science; SRI International; Belden, Russonello & Stewart; Stone’s Throw Strategic Communications and Inverness Research, Inc., to conduct research and share insights into what happens along the path of science teaching and student learning, with a special emphasis on grades K-8.
At the heart of this effort is the development of a comprehensive, data-driven portrait of science education in California coupled with strategic communications activities that will help policymakers, educators and others make informed and targeted decisions about how to strengthen science education policy and instructional practice. The work includes public opinion research examining Californians’ understanding and views of science education, a series of statewide surveys of educators’ experiences with teaching science, a landscape study of the status of the science teacher workforce, and case studies of effective elementary school science programs that can provide insight into what is required to strengthen science teaching.
California faces many serious challenges. The success with which we address our energy needs, improve environmental quality, develop new medical treatments, and deal with a myriad of other problems will depend on students who are in the 4th grade today. We believe that providing students access to high quality science instruction is critical to their future and ours.