Synopsis of Symposium Presentations
The Need for Scientifically Literate Teachers
Bruce Alberts,President, National Academy of Sciences
Science should be a core subject—not an add-on—in every year of school, starting in kindergarten. Science must be for all students, not just to produce scientists but to produce citizens who can find jobs and can be effective in their personal lives. Science cannot be taught as words to be memorized from textbooks and then tested on multiple choice exams. Science must be taught as inquiry-based learning, with hands-on, problem-solving exercises.
We have to rethink how we prepare teachers. Science and mathematics teachers need pedagogy that is subject matter specific, not general. In many cases, our existing programs teach things that teachers do not need and do not teach things that they do need.
Opening Remarks at the symposium focused participants on the vision of science for all, the reality of state and federal policies and programs, and the need for collaboration to bring about change in those policies, programs, and practice.
The Need for Reform in State Policy
William Randall,Commissioner, Colorado Department of Education; President, Council of Chief State School Officers
Keep in mind that in the United States the state is the focus for education, not the federal government. It is very important that anything we talk about doing, we talk about in the framework of how the states are organized and how they are trying to link the science education in the K-12 system with both undergraduate and graduate programs so that we can have science teacher quality in all our classrooms. It is time to start breaking down the old structures and artificial barriers that now exist in the states, the universities, and the schools.
The Need for Reform in Teacher Preparation Programs
Robert Watson,Director, Division of Undergraduate Education, National Science Foundation (NSF)
Current efforts at NSF place emphasis on getting scientists, science departments, and science, mathematics, and engineering schools to take on a more appropriate role in the preparation of future teachers and to form better partnerships with their colleagues in the colleges of education. I am convinced that if science departments in colleges and universities were more hospitable to students who would become teachers, then not only would those students be better prepared to go into teaching but a much stronger cadre of students would be attracted to teaching.
Keynote Address: Implications of the Standards for Teacher Preparation and Certification
Pascal Forgione,Delaware Superintendent of Public Instruction
This is a unique, unprecedented opportunity. The National Science Education Standards provide mutual direction on a large scale: there are clear expectations and real-world standards set within a common vision of excellence and equity for all. All students means all, and that is a distinctive feature of this reform. We are talking about this vision for all, moving the whole distribution of students to a higher and more appropriate level of performance. That vision has to come from the top.
The development of high-quality and rigorous content standards is the foundation for student achievement, but a foundation is not sufficient to ensure high-quality opportunities for all students to develop an understanding of science. Although we may have the vision, unless that vision is founded in the expectation of what students should know and do, unless that vision is clearly articulated, unless that vision is widely held, and unless that vision becomes a reality, all children will not have the opportunities needed to understand the beauty and complexity of science.
So, what does it really mean to teach to the Standards? We need to identify what teachers must know and be able to do in order to deliver high-quality learning opportunities for students. Content and pedagogical content knowledge must become part of the pre-service experience. Higher education must build upon its tremendous