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AAAS Urges Voluntary Education Standards to Bolster Science Learning
Writing in the Washington Times, AAAS Chief Executive Officer Alan I. Leshner called for voluntary national education standards under the No Child Left Behind Act.
In a commentary appearing on 15 August, Leshner said that voluntary standards would "scrap the crazy-quilt pattern of wildly differing tests and proficiency thresholds that currently vary from state to state."
"Science literacy is, after all, no longer merely a luxury for the gifted and wealthy, but in fact a baseline requirement for any student hoping to compete for jobs in the 21st century," Leshner said.
While No Child Left Behind (NCLB) has been criticized for its emphasis on testing, Leshner's commentary said the measure had helped produce improved reading and mathematics scores. He cited two pending NCLB revision bills—one in the U.S. Senate, sponsored by Sens. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.), Mary Landrieu (D-La.), and Norm Coleman (R-Minn.), and one in the House, sponsored by Rep. George Miller (D-Calif.).
"The core concepts of both bills are on the mark," Leshner wrote. "Whether they're rich, poor, white, black, Hispanic, male, female or in any other category, all children deserve our very best efforts to teach them science and mathematics. Moreover, keeping America competitive will require tapping every potential talent pool and bringing them to the highest possible levels of achievement, which again points to the need for a coherent, uniform set of national science standards."
The standards could be based on guidelines already set forth by Project 2061 at AAAS, the National Research Council, the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, and the National Assessment of Educational Progress.
15 August 2007