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ERIC Number: ED534754
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2012-Mar
Pages: 6
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: N/A
Lost Opportunities: The Status of Science Education in California Middle Schools. CenterView
Center for the Future of Teaching and Learning at WestEd
California's middle schools have a critical role to play in furthering their students' pursuit of science learning, in high school and beyond. The rapidly changing economy, advances in technology, and the press of global challenges only increase the importance of this responsibility. The potential is there for California's middle schools to provide each student with a strong science education. For the most part, their students have access to science facilities and basic equipment; the schools themselves have carved out dedicated time for science instruction in the weekly calendar; and many middle school science teachers have a background in science and have received additional preparation for teaching the subject. But a closer look reveals that this potential remains largely untapped. Many students do not receive science instruction in the earlier grades, arriving at middle school underprepared for and uninterested in learning science. Some middle school teachers may not have an adequate background for teaching science, and even those who come with a science background need opportunities to deepen their knowledge and improve their teaching skills, while keeping up with ever changing developments in the field. Overcrowded classrooms, insufficient time for instruction, and inadequate resources further limit access to high-quality learning opportunities that engage students in the exploration and practice of science. Systemic support for science education has eroded, and few schools have relationships with external organizations that could otherwise help to provide quality science learning opportunities. This CenterView highlights these issues, which are examined in greater depth in the survey-based study "Untapped Potential: The Status of Middle School Science Education in California," available on the web at This study was undertaken with the aim of better understanding the degree to which California middle schools are providing science learning opportunities that are aligned with the National Research Council's recommendations for science instruction. The Council's recommendations have led to development of the national Next Generation Science Standards, which emphasize providing comprehensive, high-quality science instruction that includes opportunities for students to learn by engaging in the scientific process. This paper offers steps that can be taken to help California middle schools more fully tap their potential to provide students with high-quality learning opportunities in science. (Contains 1 exhibit and 1 footnote.)
Center for the Future of Teaching and Learning at WestEd. 133 Mission Street Suite 220, Santa Cruz, CA 95060. Tel: 831-427-3628; Fax: 831-427-1612; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Reports - Research
Education Level: Middle Schools
Audience: Policymakers
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: Center for the Future of Teaching and Learning at WestEd
Identifiers - Location: California