Study Says Science Crowded Out of California Elementary Classrooms

Marion Herbert's picture
Wednesday, October 26, 2011

California's elementary school teachers find little time to teach science, and when they do, they feel ill-prepared and ill-equipped, according to a new study.

The study by the Center for the Future of Teaching and Learning says despite educators' strong belief in the importance of science, the focus on English language arts and mathematics — especially in schools struggling to bring up test scores, schools in what's known as Program Improvement — has too often meant pushing science aside.

“Clearly with those schools in Program Improvement, where they've had to double up on reading and math, it's a significant problem,” said Michael Watkins, county schools superintendent. “I've seen a narrowing of the curriculum.”

Kris Munro, assistant superintendent for education services in Santa Cruz City Schools, said the federal No Child Left Behind mandate has pushed schools to prioritize English and math, but, thanks to city voters who approved a parcel tax, the district has been able to maintain a hands-on science program known as Life Lab at every elementary school.

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