The report released Tuesday by the National Research Council presents a foundation for new K-12 science education standards to replace those issued more than a decade ago, a release from the National Academy of Sciences said.
The report recommends students gradually deepen their knowledge of core ideas in four disciplinary areas over multiple years of school rather than acquire shallow knowledge of many topics. It emphasizes the practices of science, helping students learn to plan and carry out investigations.
It identifies the four disciplinary areas -- life sciences; physical sciences; earth and space sciences; and engineering, technology and the applications of science -- that all students should understand by the time they finish high school.
Existing educational approaches are ill-equipped to achieve these goals, the report said.
"Currently, science education in the U.S. lacks a common vision of what students should know and be able to do by the end of high school, curricula too often emphasize breadth over depth, and students are rarely given the opportunity to experience how science is actually done," said Helen Quinn, committee chairwoman and professor of physics at SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory in Stanford, Calif.
"The new framework is designed to address and overcome these weaknesses. It builds on what is known to work best in science education, based on research and classroom experience both in the U.S. and around the world. It provides a blueprint that will guide improvements in science education over many years."