Science fairs in decline

An article in today’s Times notes that participation in high-school science fairs is declining. At fault?

[M]any science teachers say the problem is not a lack of celebration, but the Obama administration’s own education policy, which holds schools accountable for math and reading scores at the expense of the kind of creative, independent exploration that science fair projects require. … [looong ellipsis] … Many educators said they wished the projects were deemed important enough to devote class time to them, which is difficult for schools whose federal funding hinges on improving math and reading test scores.


The Obama administration has urged broadening the subjects tested under the law – possibly including science. But some teachers say they are already burdened by state requirements to teach a wide range of facts – say, the parts of a cell – which prevents them from devoting class time to research projects.

“I have so many state standards I have to teach concept-wise, it takes time away from what I find most valuable, which is to have them inquire about the world,” said Amanda Alonzo, a science teacher at Lynbrook High School in San Jose, Calif. …