Science Education Policy

ACS Position Statement

Well-educated scientists and engineers drive the technology development that allows the United States to maintain its competitive edge in the global marketplace and improve the well-being of citizens worldwide. Chemistry, as well as science in general, is central to how people address pressing problems at local, national, and global levels. To prepare current and future students with the skills necessary to address rapidly evolving needed technology will require improvement to all levels of STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) education. It is vital that each student reaches an appropriate level of science understanding and is prepared for the 21st century STEM, health, and policy workforces. To achieve these goals, policymakers should pursue the following objectives for all modes of instruction: 

  • Promote lifelong, rigorous education of science concepts and practices in formal and informal settings to improve citizens’ understanding of science and the role it plays in our nation’s economic and social well-being. 
  • Provide adequate state and federal support for science education facilities, as well as pre- and in-service teacher preparation and education, to strengthen the quality of teaching that will, in turn, enhance student learning.
  • Nurture students of all backgrounds—particularly those from underrepresented groups—in the pursuit of further studies, and ultimately, careers in the science and engineering fields.
  • Ensure that all K-12 students reach an acceptable level of science understanding, in accordance with the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), and that students preparing for STEM careers have the opportunity for deeper exploration of science content.

A systematic approach—supported by research-based methods that yield measurable results and focused on the weakest areas of the science education system—is critical to meet these objectives. Also, national standards must reflect the current body of teaching and learning research, as well as emphasize the process and practice of science.

To improve the STEM education system, including alignment with workforce programs, we support

  • Using national standards such as NGSS and the science literacy components of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS), where these have been adopted, and continuing to ensure that other states strive to have rigorous, broadly applicable standards for their students.
  • Pursuing initiatives at all educational levels to encourage partnerships between schools and appropriate STEM industries and/or businesses to give students a hands-on learning environment in cutting-edge, high-impact science.
  • Adopting research-based practices in higher education, including the expectation that faculty are trained in effective use of these practices.