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Breaking Through the Roadblock: An Example from Science Education Advocacy

As a follow-up to yesterday’s entry, The First Roadblock to Arts Education Policy Improvement, I offer a very interesting item, an example if you will, as to what it looks like when such roadblocks are broken through. Perhaps bypassed would be a better way to treat the metaphor, as you never know what’s on the other side of that roadblock!

Is this a perfect example, nope. Are there any?  Hummm…I will get back to you on that.

Click on through to Georgia Plans to Require Science as Measure of AYP, from the Curriculum Matters blog on Ed Week.

A few things to bear in mind:

1. Even science has suffered as a result of curriculum narrowing. As much as it burns me to see the arts left out of initiatives such as STEM, I have a pretty good understanding how science learning has suffered in the US, primarily through what I have learned from my friend and colleague Joy Hakim. That reminds me, Joy gave me consent to publish some of her writings on how the text book industry has held science education back. For an entry in the near future.

2. As a corollary to item one, it’s a good time to give ourselves a break, for if science has had such a hard time, it just goes to show what a tough business it is to advance arts education.

3. I don’t know if anyone wants to see that arts become part of Annual Yearly Progress as defined by NCLB. That being said, making the arts part of accountability, as is being done here for science, would be a breaking through of one very big roadblock.

“The rationale for this strategy is two-fold: First, student interest
in and preparation for science in high school must begin at the
elementary level. Unfortunately, teachers and principals often
de-emphasize science, partly because of the strong focus on reading and
mathematics, where distinct accountability consequences are in place,
and partly because many elementary and middle school teachers lack
strong content knowledge in the sciences. Second, since what is measured
matters, requiring science as a second AYP indicator will put an
instructional focus on teaching and learning the subject.”

The application emphasizes, however, that it’s not simply issuing a
new requirement for science. This step will be accompanied by
professional development for teachers and other related efforts.


  1. I’ve really appreciated both of these “roadblock” posts. Particularly valuable, I think, is the recognition that science educators share something with arts educators–that both have been marginalized and narrowed in troublesome ways. That truth gets lost sometimes, and can lead arts educators to see STEM-discipline learning as the “opponent.”
    In a way, a project I’ve been leading at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts has been trying to build on that type of recognition. For what it’s worth, it was also inspired in part by one of your interesting blogposts of a couple years back, as I mention in this recent entry:

  2. Thanks Mike. I was just looking at your wonderful website and project a couple of weeks ago, and your work, combined with others such as what Wolf Trap is undertaking lead me to try and make clear that some of my complaints about where STEM is heading has nothing to do with fine projects such as yours that are advancing the integration of the arts with STEM subjects. The exploration here is important and something I admire.
    I lament STEM moving forward in such large scale ways (RTTT) that are leaving the arts behind, and reminding me of the slow moving capacity of the arts education field to build the necessary bridges/common cause so that STEM would have been STEAM from the outset. Had that been the case, perhaps Race to the Top and other game changers for STEM would be helping arts and vice versa.
    Certainly, I count myself in the lament. I wish that I had thought of joining the emerging STEM movement earlier on. I trust that good work like yours will help advance a holistic approach to education that will widen the curriculum rather than narrow it.

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