The University of South Carolina is crediting some of the improvement on a recent science test for elementary and middle school students in the state on partnerships between its professors and public schools.
Professor Bridget Miller told South Carolina Radio Network improved scores on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) was combination of efforts that helped the students’ score increases.
“I don’t know if we can say we personally increased the scores. But our faculty here at the University of South Carolina are really working hard to increase STEM education, meaning science, technology, engineering and mathematics,” Miller said.
The college is revising the early childhood education curriculum and enhancing its science content. In the spring of 2014, the early childhood education program introduced specific courses focused on mathematics, science and engineering methods of instruction. Previously, these content areas were condensed into one course with little to no science instruction.
The faculty also partner with several high-need public school districts throughout the state to work on content development and instructional best practices to improve schools’ science instruction. Miller said they did work with teachers in certain districts to improve teaching methods. “(We’re) Focusing on areas of weakness and science and then helping them implement that into their classroom,” Miller said.
South Carolina was among 14 states to show significant score increases on the science test. The NAEP science test was administered to approximately 4,600 4th and 8th-grade students in spring 2015.
The NAEP results, commonly referred to as the Nation’s Report Card, provide a means for large-scale student assessments every few years. Nationally more than 115,000 4th grade students and 110,900 8th graders participated in the spring 2015 NAEP science assessment. The assessment was also given to 11,000 12th grade students but those results are not reported out on the state level.