As our district contemplates the dismal failure of students on the PSSA science tests (we are actually average, so the whole state stinks), one has to wonder why. Without looking at the actual questions, here are some thoughts:
- Elementary science scores are higher. The test is either very easy or it is about things kids already do have knowledge about.
- As you go higher through school, science is specialized. Not every student takes a chemistry course. They may have had the concepts in a physical science class, but those students traditionally do poorly and have not had that material in years.
- Remedial time has been spent on Math and Reading strategies and practice in order to pass those tests. This may be to help them but has a negative connotation. Would it not be better to help all students with interesting reading selections that challenge students (like literature circles?)
- The questions asked are not in line with the standards. There may have been a disproportionate number of chemistry questions compared to the number of chemistry state standards.
- Students know it does not count for graduation. do you think that had an effect?
- Who cares? Does knowing a few facts mean anything in todays world if you do not know what to do with it? This of course means that how we teach science and structure curriculum still has to change completely.