Secondary Students Take More Science Courses But Achievement Does Not Increase

March 29th, 2010

A new study from the Consortium on Chicago School Research finds that although a 1997 Chicago Schools policy that increased the number of college-preparatory science courses that students took and passed, it also kept students from taking higher-level science courses and did not increase the college-going rate, according to Education Week. The policy made it mandatory that all freshmen take three years of science as part of a curriculum that also expanded requirements in English, social studies, mathematics, and foreign languages. Researchers found that the increase in science course-taking did not translate into higher grades. Many students passed with C’s and D’s, both before and after the policy was implemented, suggesting a low level of learning and engagement. Only 15 percent completed three years of science with a B average or higher. According to co-author Nicholas Montgomery, prior research shows that students who are truly gaining knowledge in courses earn grades of A or B. “Before the policy, most students received C’s and D’s in their classes,” he said. “If they weren’t being successful with one or two years of science, why would we think they would be successful with three years of science, if we don’t pay attention to getting the students engaged?” The study tracked nearly 168,000 Chicago school students in 75 schools who entered 9th grade each year from 1993 to 2001