“A literate citizen should be able to evaluate the quality of scientific information on the basis of its source and the methods used to generate it.” – National Science Education Standards, 1996
A more comprehensive approach to literacy teaching should be included as part of the revised Elementary and Secondary Education Act, says the Alliance for Excellent Education. The alliance, which advocates for improved high-school education, argues that educators are not supported or prepared in offering literacy instruction to students beyond third grade — after which it is assumed they will “read to learn” rather than “learn to read.” The group says more focus is needed on teaching reading in both middle and high schools.
In a world surrounded by the impact of science, only 30 % of U. S. adults are scientifically literate says the National Assessment of Education Progress.
Scientific literacy is the knowledge and understanding of scientific concepts and processes required for personal decision making, participation in civic and cultural affairs, and economic productivity.
What literacy skills are required for effective citizenry in a world where all citizens can survive and prosper in a shifting science-based economy with increasing global competition for international standing in markets, products, skills professionals, manufacturing sites, and ideas for future technological advancements?
- a person can ask, find, or determine answers to questions derived from curiosity about everyday experiences.
- a person has the ability to describe, explain, and predict natural phenomena.
- a person can tread with understanding articles about science in the popular press and to engage in social conversation about the validity of the conclusions.
- a person can identify scientific issues underlying national and local decisions and express positions that are scientifically and technologically informed.
- person has the capacity to pose and evaluate arguments based on evidence and to apply conclusions from such arguments appropriately.
Achieving these literacy skills is a life-long learning experience where a strong foundation for continuous learning is achieved by the 12th grade. Adults and youth who participate in WHY SCIENCE programs gain the above mentioned science literacy skills by doing activities that
- nurture abilities for understanding and doing science
- nurture and develop critical thinking and creative problem solving skills for innovation in science
- provide many opportunities to explain investigated scientific problems or questions
- encourage communication about science in different formats, using relevant science vocabulary, supporting evidence and clear logic.
Clearly literacy education beyond the 3rd grade is necessary to help all Americans compete for jobs in a global economy. Click Here to Read Full Education Week Article on Literacy
Sources Cited: National Science Education Standards, 1996 page 22
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