Monday, July 30, 2007

You Mean, All Those Math Classes are Helping My Science Grade?

According to a new study of 8,474 students, taking introductory science at 63 U.S. Colleges and Universities, students who took more math in high school did better in all types of college science. Students who took high school science courses such as chemistry or physics improved college performance only in those specific subject areas.

Randolph E. Schmid, AP Science Writer, said in his Thursday, July 26, 2007 article “Want to Be Good at Science? Math Is Key”, describes the report published by Philip M. Sadler of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics and Robert H. Tai of the University of Virginia in July’s edition of Science Journal.

Click Here To Read The Article

Science educators often take joy in debating the effect of the order in which students take science courses throughout their high school career. Some science teachers argue that physics should be taught earlier because it will help students understand the other two science areas; other teachers say having chemistry first will help in learning biology. But, the 1890’s biology tends to come first, followed by chemistry and then physics.

Ask Yourself: Which of these arguments would I support?

Then read the article and find out…neither was the case.

Schmid quotes the researchers: "I was surprised," Sadler said in a telephone interview. "I had a very open mind about whether this kind of early preparation would pay off." "The most important thing for high school science teachers is to make sure there is lots of math in whatever science course they teach," Sadler said. "Math is so important in college science."

I believe the real “informational nugget” here is the idea that science teachers purposefully integrate math into their content and likewise, math teachers view their content with a critical eye on science. Here is where acceleration of learning could take place in both subject areas.

Ask Yourself: Could we create an opportunity for a team of science and math teachers to develop “team teaching” episodes, lessons, or full units of study, which would help our students learn to integrate their knowledge of science and math?

Do you believe students would learn more? Would we?

Related stories on Math studies:

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

School Integration is Still a Hot Button

In a nation where housing patterns are largely segregated, efforts to integrate schools have been a hot button in education for more than a half-century, and the Supreme Court pushed that button again this week.
Tamar Lewin, of the New York Times shares information and her thoughts in her article on June 29, 2007: Across U.S., a New Look at School Integration Efforts

Lewin writes, “After a deeply divided U.S. Supreme Court ruled 5-4 to strike down two districts' racial integration plans, schools across the country wondered whether they must drastically change their own desegregation efforts. Although the court's four most conservative members sought to make all race-based decisions unconstitutional, Justice Anthony Kennedy, who cast the tie-breaking vote, narrowed their reach for now, saying race may sometimes be used to achieve diversity.”

Lawyers quoted in her article said the 5-to-4 ruling would not end litigation over school desegregation and may reignite it, as many school districts will have to turn to alternative methods for achieving diversity.

“The decision leaves unanswered questions about when race may be considered, and unanswered questions lead to more litigation,” said Sally Scott, a Chicago lawyer whose firm, Franczek Sullivan, represents dozens of Illinois school districts, some of which use assignment plans that consider race.

Education lawyers seem to agree that the decision most likely will lead to the consideration of income as a neutral means of achieving school diversity.

“Sharon Browne, a lawyer for the Pacific Legal Foundation, a conservative group that supported the parents suing Seattle and Louisville, said at a news conference yesterday that in addition to the foundation’s current litigation against policies in Los Angeles and Berkeley, Calif., schools, her group has identified several other districts, including Lynn, Mass., and Rochester, whose policies now seem ripe for challenge.”

Lewin describes how, “Justices disagreed bluntly with each other in 169 pages of written opinions on whether the decision supports or betrays the landmark Brown v. Board of Education ruling that led to the end of state-sponsored school segregation in the United States.”

Ask Yourself:

• Lewin believes the 5-4 decision, the 24th such split this term, displayed the new dominance of the court's aggressive conservative majority because the four liberal justices dissented.
Do You?

• Beginning in the 1990’s, court orders were lifted in many districts and Supreme Court judges have ruled as if the effects of past segregation had been remedied.
Do you believe the effects of past segregation have been remedied?

• Will the new Supreme Court ruling drastically change your school’s desegregation or diversity efforts?

New York Times Article, June 29, 2007

“Experts Fear Increasing Segregation in Wake of Supreme Court Decision”©id=C7EB6633-68B8-4CDF-9DEC-DBD3E97FFB10&lmcid=1251202

Other related Stories from ASCD©id=9C87EB76-57A4-4D2A-AAB6-6E4A00D344B0&lmcid=1251202&brief=ascd