October 23, 2014

Missouri schools rediscover importance of science (AUDIO)

Elementary science classes throughout Missouri are getting renewed attention by school districts to improve the subject standards.

As education standards shift in Missouri, school districts are taking a look at how science has lagged behind in priority compared to subjects such as reading and math. School districts are requiring teachers to dedicate more time into science and integrating into other classes as well.

Education Department Spokesman Sarah Potter says it’s all about making sure teachers are teaching the latest and greatest in the best ways for students to learn. She says right now, it’s a statewide initiative and nothing yet is set in stone for change.

 “This is to ensure that students here in Missouri are able to get the science jobs that are coming in 20 years from now and that they’re able to follow whatever career path in science that they want to follow,” she says. “The idea of having these standards is that we’ll be able to compete not just on a state level or on a national level, but we’ll be able to compete with every other country in the world so that our science is top notch.”

Potter says looking from a national level and policy level, because the No Child Left Behind Act focused so much on reading and math, which was the first wave of standards that went through with English Language Arts and Math and thinks Science has lagged behind because of it.

“I think Science did get left behind a little bit, but now states are looking to catch up and to take a look at those national Science standards or state-lead Science standards,” she says.

Science Director Shaun Bates, of the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education says it began with a framework of putting an emphasis on what they want students to know rather than placing a limited expectation on them.

 “The big change that we’re seeing right now is going away from having students memorize facts as most of us have done inside a normal classroom,” he says.

Bates says it’s important for students to understand the “big ideas” and the concepts. “So much of science…what we learn is, it integrates into other sciences,” he says.

Bates says all forms of science subjects integrate within each other from earth science to physics that students should have a clear understanding for as the science standards become raised in the state.

 

AUDIO: Mary Farucci reports. (1:02)