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  • Foster the development of high-quality curricula and assessments that are closely aligned with world-class standards.

  • Establish ambitious but realistic goals for student performance—for example, that 30% of high school seniors should be proficient in science by 2010 as measured by the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP).

Changing the Institutional Structure of Schools
  • Provide seed money or incentives for new kinds of schools and new forms of schooling. Promising ideas include small high schools, dual-enrollment programs in high schools and colleges, colocation of schools with institutions of higher education, and wider use of Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate courses.

  • Help districts institute reorganization of the school schedule to support teaching and learning. Possibilities include devoting more time to study of academic subjects, keeping schools open longer in the day and during parts of the summer, and providing teachers with additional time for development and collaboration.

  • Provide scholarships for low-income students who demonstrate that they have taken a core curriculum in high school that prepares them to study science, mathematics, or engineering in college.

The challenge for policy-makers is to find ways of generating meaningful change in an educational system that is large, complex, and pluralistic. Sustained programs of research, coordination, and oversight can channel concerns over K–12 science, mathematics, and technology education in productive directions.


The state of US K–12 education in science, mathematics, and technology has become a focus of intense concern. With the economies and broader cultures of the United States and other countries becoming increasingly dependent on science and technology, US schools do not seem capable of producing enough students with the knowledge and skills needed to prosper.

On the 1996 NAEP, fewer than one-third of students performed at or above the proficiency level in mathematics and science—with “proficiency” denoting competence in challenging subject matter.1 Alarmingly, more than


National Center for Education Statistics. NAEP 1999 Trends in Academic Progress: Three Decades of Academic Performance. NCES 2000-469. Washington, DC: US Department of Education, 2000.

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