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Opportunity to Learn Audit: High School Science


"It is widely acknowledged that today's students will need to compete in a global economy that requires proficiency in science and technology. In an attempt to ensure that all Massachusetts students reach a minimal level of proficiency in these subjects, the class of 2010 high school students will have to earn a passing score on one MCAS science exam (biology, chemistry, physics, or technology/engineering) in order to receive a diploma. Results of national assessments show that while Massachusetts students score better in science than their peers in other states, there are disturbing gaps in the performance of certain sub-groups of students -black and Hispanic students, students from low-income homes, English language learners - who fail to meet proficiency standards at satisfactory rates. Indeed for all students, undeniable gaps exist in students' achievement, knowledge, expectations and comprehension of the needs of the future economy. Given that the state is now holding all students accountable for their performance in science, it is necessary to examine whether or not all students are receiving equitable opportunities to learn and succeed in science. This report seeks to identify concretely what top-performing schools do to support science instruction and to draw out considerations for policymakers at the district and state levels."