State Science Standards

Published November 4, 1998

While a B is not a bad grade, it should not satisfy those who are responsible for educational standards, points out Lawrence S. Lerner, professor of physics and astronomy at California State University at Long Beach, who evaluated state science standards for the Fordham Foundation report. In an ideal world, he says, “all states would achieve As.”

Fordham President Chester E. Finn Jr. agrees. “In a properly organized education system, standards drive everything else,” he says. “If they are only ‘pretty good,’ then ‘pretty good’ is all the system is apt to produce by way of student learning.” Hence, no state should be satisfied with less than world-class standards in a core academic subject such as science.

“I can think of no sound reason why what is expected of teachers and children in biology or chemistry should be different in Tennessee (which got an F from Dr. Lerner) than in Indiana,” contends Finn. “Indeed, it should be approximately the same as what is expected in Singapore and Germany, too.” While academic standards in history and literature may vary from state to state and culture to culture, science or mathematics should not.