Education Systems for a Global Future: Why Aren’t American Schools Measuring Up and What Can We Do About It?

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Consistently, the financial stability of countries relies on human capital and increasingly, there is a recognition that humans will need to continue to improve their knowledge and skills throughout their lives. In particular, there is strong recognition that to remain globally competitive, countries will need to support and educate individuals that are literate in science and mathematics. The educational systems in the United States, however, do not seem to be embracing this perspective, particularly in the area of science. In many American public schools, science instruction has been reduced or, in some K-5 schools, eliminated from the core curriculum to make room for test-related topics or test preparation activities. Not surprisingly, the recent results from an international test focusing on scientific and mathematical literacy (PISA) were very disappointing: American teenagers performed below the international average among industrialized nations in both mathematics and science, with a score of 24 points below the international average in mathematics. ( Our analysis of why American schools are not measuring up points to the lack of complex reasoning in science and mathematics within American K-12 schools. This presentation will emphasize six lessons learned as a result of six years implementing a large National Science Foundation-funded research program focusing on complex thinking in science ( This program works exclusively within the Detroit Public Schools, a large, urban school district with high-poverty and consistently low performance scores on standardized tests. Our lessons learned emphasize interdisciplinary solutions to complex problems that we believe have a great deal of applicability to educational systems in many countries and regions of the world

Keywords: Education, Education for a Global Future, Policy and Education, Science and Mathematics Education
Stream: Education and Social Welfare
Presentation Type: Paper Presentation in English
Paper: A paper has not yet been submitted.

Prof. Nancy B. Songer

Professor of Science Education and Learning Technologies, School of Education, The University of Michigan
Ann Arbor, MI., USA

Dr. Songer is a Professor of Science Education and Learning Technologies at the University of Michigan and the Director of BioKIDS: Kids’ Inquiry of Diverse Species []. In BioKIDS, thousands of high-poverty middle school students track and analyze data to determine the biodiversity of their schoolyards leading to deep conceptual understanding of scientific phenomena. New work also explores the design and evaluation of science assessments to effectively evaluate complex reasoning. Songer’s research publications number over sixth and appear in Science Education, The International Journal of Science Education, The Journal of the Learning Sciences, and Educational Researcher. Over the past ten years, Songer has been Principal Investigator or Co-Principal Investigator of nearly 10 million dollars in sponsored research. Recent awards include Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), the Early Career Research Award from the National Association of Research in Science Teaching, and a 1995 National Science Foundation Presidential Faculty Fellowship awarded by President William J. Clinton.

Ref: I08P0587