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National Business Coalition Wants Tougher Math, Science Standards

More than twice as many California 4th graders were proficient on state math tests than reached the same distinction on more rigorous national exams. A national organization is calling on governors to improve state standards for math and science.

Changing the Equation focuses on improving science, technology, engineering and math education. These are the areas most economists believe will drive American jobs growth in the coming decades.

A report from the coalition of CEOs shows state standards for science and math education lag those set by national assessments.


The report was released Thursday at a panel discussion hosted by the organization. Participants agreed that bringing innovative teaching methods into the classroom is vital to improving student achievement.

“Now, that’s going to take some time and it’s not easy. But once that’s achieved we won’t just be competitive with countries like Finland and Singapore in how our students perform in math and science, we’ll be leaving them far behind," said Carl Wieman, associate director of science for the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.

In 2009, 36 percent of San Diego city school fourth graders scored at or above "proficient" on national math exams. That trails the national proficiency rate of 39 percent. Thirty-four percent of eighth graders achieved the same distinction, the same as eighth graders nationally.

In science, 29 percent of fourth graders and just 20 percent of eighth graders scored at or above "proficient." Those national rates were 33 and 29 percent, respectively.

Mike Casserly, executive director of the Council of Great City Schools, an alliance of urban school leaders, said improving student performance, especially in large cities, will take more than setting the bar higher.


“How it is we ensure that all kids have access to the curriculum and materials that align with those standards is critically important, otherwise all this is just smoke and mirrors," he said.

San Diego fourth and eighth graders did outperform students in other large city school districts.