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First State-by-State Comparisons of Math, Science Education Released

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Washington--The first state-by-state comparisons of data on mathematics and science education have been released by the Council of Chief State School Officers.

The group last month published a federally funded report, which is expected to be issued biennially, that includes data on student course-taking, demographic characteristics of teachers, and the proportion of teachers teaching out of the field in which they were certified.

The information will, for the first time, enable state officials to compare their own programs to those in other states and in the nation as a whole, said Rolf Blank, director of the council's science/math indicators project.

"In the past, each state published reports, and people weren't sure if they were comparable," he said. "With this common reporting system, we can relate where each state is to the larger picture."

In the future, Mr. Blank said, the council will also include an analysis of the data and descriptions of how states can use the information.

He noted, in addition, that the project will "hook up with" other state-by-state comparisons, including the National Assessment of Educational Progress and the schools and staffing survey of the National Center for Education Statistics.

The nces survey will provide state-level data on elementary class time spent on math and science, and indicators of the preparation of elementary and secondary teachers in math and science. Next year, naep will provide state-level data on math achievement by 8th graders.

Findings from the report include the following:

In the 29 states that reported enrollment data, an average of 24 percent of high-school students were taking earth, physical, or general science in 1988-89.

The proportions taking such subjects varied widely among states, however. For example, 0.4 percent of Alabama students and 24 percent of Virginia students in grades 9 through 12 were taking earth science.

"It is likely," the report states, "that the variation reflects differing state priorities and guidelines for 9th-grade science."

The median state percentage of math teachers under age 30 is 14 percent; the median above age 50 is 16 percent.

The proportion of male and female math and science teachers varies substantially. In Minnesota, 20 percent of math teachers are female; in Texas, the proportion is 76 percent.

The percentage of math teachers teaching out of field ranges from 0 percent to 27 percent, while the proportion of part-time chemistryteachers teaching out of field ranges from 0 percent to 61 percent.

Copies of "State-by-State Indicators of Science and Mathematics Education" are available for $2 each from Rolf Blank, Director, Science/Math Indicators Project, Council of Chief State School Officers, 400 North Capitol St., Washington, D.C. 20001.


Proportion of Students Enrolled in Science CoursesIn Grades 9-12 By Level

Proportion of Students Enrolled in Math CoursesIn Grades 9-12 By Level

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