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Polling support for science education

In a recent survey, voters overwhelmingly accepted that improving the quality of science education is important to the competitiveness of the United States in the global scene — and a majority agreed that there's a lot of room for improvement. According to a March 30, 2012, press release from Achieve, the nonprofit education reform organization that commissioned the survey:

  • There is virtual unanimity among voters (97%) that improving the quality of science education in our public schools is important to our country's ability to compete globally.
  • A majority of voters give the quality of science education a grade of "C" or below — both nationally (67%) and in their local schools (50%).
  • Most voters (56%) ... believe science education in the United States ranks behind most other countries. This includes majorities across all major sub-groups, including gender, education, region or political affiliation.
  • Similar to voters' views on English and mathematics standards, by a margin of almost 2 to 1 (62% to 36%), voters prefer for states to have the same science standards so that students across the country have to meet the same expectations.
  • When informed that a group of states are leading the effort to develop new standards that are internationally-benchmarked, more challenging, and will require students to apply their science knowledge and understand how science concepts fit together, voters show broad support (87%) for the new standards.

Stephen Pruitt, Achieve's vice president of content, research, and development, was quoted as saying, "Science teachers have long understood the value to students of a high-quality science education and it's encouraging to see that voters also understand the value of a robust science education — for students as well as for our nation's ability to compete."

Achieve is currently coordinating the development of a set of science standards based on the National Research Council's A Framework for K-12 Science Education. The survey was conducted for Achieve by Public Opinion Strategies and Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research between February 22 and February 26, 2012, among 800 registered voters. The poll has a margin of error of +/-3.46%.