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Specialists Could Make The Difference For Science Learning

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Students in Virginia are doing far better than the national average when it comes to learning science, but some local education leaders say science could still use some more time in the spotlight.

Virginia may be well ahead of the national curve when it comes to science. But according to the 2009 National Assessment of Educational Progress released Tuesday, fewer than half of Virginia's fourth-graders scored proficient in science -- and only 36 percent of eighth-graders show proficiency.

Fairfax County Public Schools science coordinator Myra Thayer says in the No Child Left Behind era, most states aren't focusing on science because it isn't tested.

"We have had a history of having reading specialists in elementary schools because we believe those are important. And we've been working to get mathematics specialists in many schools because we believe that is important," Thayer says.

Thayer would like to see the same trend start with science. She says right now only a few schools in Fairfax have science specialists.

"It could be that we have to change the test, but having a test scares me a little bit," she says.

Thayer says science is necessarily messy and hands on. She doesn't want to see science knowledge tested with multiple choice exams.

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