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The Relationship Between Time Allocated for Science in Elementary Schools and State Accountability Policies

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Correspondence to: Eugene Judson; e-mail: Eugene.Judson@asu.edu

ABSTRACT

In the United States, student achievement results from mathematics and reading are always included in high-stakes accountability calculations. Because of this, it has been argued that other subjects have been minimized due to assessment and accountability policies. In this study, the accountability practices of states were differentiated into three groups based on the degree to which science achievement contributed to accountability formulas. Data from National Assessment of Educational Progress Teacher Questionnaires were evaluated to assess the amount of time fourth-grade teachers devoted to mathematics and reading in 2003 and 2011, as well as to science in 2005 and 2009. Teachers from the three groups of states reported spending equivalent amounts of time on mathematics and reading. However, the frequency of teachers reporting spending at least 4 hours of weekly instructional time on science was significantly higher in states that integrated fourth-grade science achievement into accountability formulas versus states where science did not figure in high-stakes accountability. Implications of this significant difference are discussed and are related to states’ applications to receive waivers from No Child Left Behind and to alignment with the goals of the Next Generation Science Standards. © 2013 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. Sci Ed 97:621–636, 2013

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