The percentage of American high school seniors who scored Below Basic proficiency on the science portion of the 2009 National Assessment of Educational Progress released today by the U.S. Department of Education.


The percentage of young female 12th-graders scoring Below Basic on NAEP science. Thirty-seven percent of their male peers scored so poorly on the exam.


The percentage of black 12th-graders scoring Below Basic on NAEP science. This is the worst performance among racial and ethnic groups on the exam. No black students showed Advanced science literacy.


The percentage of Latino high school seniors scoring Below Basic on NAEP science; none scored at Advanced levels. Twenty-eight percent of white students scored Below Basic on the test (only two percent scored at Advanced levels).


The percentage of kids coming from households where the parents are dropouts that scored Below Basic in science literacy. Twenty-seven percent of kids from college-educated homes scored Below Basic on NAEP science.

The facts cannot be sugar-coated: Our children are falling behind in math and science in an age in which such knowledge is critical to economic and social success. Although not every job requires knowledge about the generic variation of offspring, high-paying positions in nursing, machine tool-and-die, and elevator installation require strong science proficiency. But American public education do a poor job of recruiting high-quality aspiring teachers with science and math backgrounds, and then poorly trains those who are recruited into the profession. Meanwhile science curricula doesn’t do the job of providing students with the wide range of knowledge they need to learn. The overhaul of American public education must continue — or our kids and our nation will lose the future.