First-ever report by Battelle, BIO and Biotechnology Institute find
wide disparities in achievement and uneven program efforts
NOTE: The following report will be officially released at 2
pm on Monday, May 18th, 2009 at the BIO International
Convention. The media is invited to participate via conference call.
Dial-in Number: 1-866-393-9713 ? Conference Code: 2029629505
Q&A will follow panel presentation.
States across America are failing to prepare students for pursuing
biosciences in higher education?a key pipeline for developing the
bioscience workforce of the future. A new report funded and researched
by BIO, Battelle, and the Biotechnology Institute provides the first
ever comprehensive study of middle and high school bioscience education
in the 50 states, Puerto Rico, and the District of Columbia. The report
also finds a wide disparity across measures of student achievement in
overall science and biosciences, an uneven record across states in
incorporating the biosciences in state science standards, supporting
focused bioscience education programs and higher level bioscience
courses, and ensuring science and bioscience teachers are well qualified.
The findings, which came to light at BIO's annual convention, indicate a
clear need for improved science education that incorporates the
biosciences at the middle and high school levels if the United States
bioscience industry sector is to remain globally competitive.
"The biosciences are a dynamic economic driver with a sizable footprint
in nearly every state," explains James Greenwood, President of BIO and
member of the Board of the Biotechnology Institute. "The bioscience
industry is a knowledge-based sector dependent upon the skills of its
workers. Bioscience workers are needed to conduct research, translate
innovation into product development and improved health care techniques,
and ultimately to manufacture biomedical and other bioscience-related
products. The prospect of the United States losing its competitive edge
in student achievement and the subsequent skills of our future workforce
is a matter of significant concern."
This is not to say that bioscience education is non-existent in the
United States because there are many examples of programs that work.
However, the report does say that these programs should be replicated
across the country and that states need to commit resources to them.
"The biosciences are the great adventure of our time, and states that
aspire to play a part, either as supporters or leaders, must nurture
their life science education programs," says Paul A. Hanle, president of
the Biotechnology Institute. "This report rates the states' performance
in life science education according to certain indicators of
achievement. It also identifies best practices and programs throughout
the nation. Both will be vital tools to help states wanting to
strengthen their life-science education efforts."
This review of state activities in bioscience education suggests a
number of actions that should be taken. For example, individual states:
Should incorporate biotechnology as they revise their science
standards and should involve research scientists with expertise in the
biosciences in their development.
Must commit to improving student achievement in biology and the life
sciences and ensuring that their high school graduates are ready to
pursue college-level bioscience courses.
Should improve the collection and dissemination of data, tracking
student participation and performance in the biosciences and the
broader sciences and if they do not participate in the National
Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) science exam should be
encouraged to do so.
Should take a more systematic approach to teacher professional
development, experiential learning, and career awareness.
"The study recognizes the important link that high schools and middle
schools have as the primary feeders to post-secondary institutions and
in shaping career preparation," explains Mitch Horowitz, Vice President
and Managing Director of the Battelle Technology Partnership Practice.
"The vast majority of bioscience jobs require some level of
post-secondary education to ensure quality control and good
manufacturing practices, conduct clinical research, design and engineer
new products, or conduct research and development."
The report provides the following evidence that states are not
On average, only 28% of the high school students taking the ACT ,
which is a national standardized test for college admission, reached a
score indicating college readiness for biology and no state reached
Only 52% of 12th graders are at or above a basic level of achievement
in the sciences, and for 8th graders only 57% are at a basic level of
Average scores for 12th graders in the sciences have actually declined
from 1996 to 2005 and shown no improvement for 8th graders both
overall and on the life science component.
A significant gap exists in science achievement for low-income
middle-school students, although the gap is slowly narrowing.
Some states fared much better than others with respect to student
achievement in the biosciences. While it is difficult to give a single
grade across states because of the limited quality and comparability of
the student achievement data, the patterns of student performance
suggest the states fall into several broad categories.
Leaders of the Pack:
Connecticut, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Ohio,
Second Tier: Colorado,
Delaware, Illinois, Maryland, Missouri, North Carolina, North Dakota,
Oregon, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Virginia, Washington
Alabama, Arizona, California, Hawaii, Indiana, Kentucky, Maine,
Michigan, Montana, South Carolina, Wyoming
Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, Nevada, New Mexico,
Oklahoma, Texas, West Virginia
Not Rated: States that do
not participate in the NAEP science assessment were not rated.
The report also finds an uneven record across states in incorporating
the biosciences in state science standards, supporting focused
bioscience education programs and advanced bioscience courses, and
ensuring well-qualified science and bioscience teachers.
Only thirty-one states reported that their science standards explicitly
mention or define standards or applied laboratory or other instruction
tools specifically for biotechnology or the biosciences.
At least half the states have at least one school with a bioscience
focus, and all of the states have schools with a focus on broader STEM
education. But states do not seem to be succeeding in encouraging high
school students to take upper-level science courses. Although data on
this subject are very limited, the share of students taking the AP
biology exam averages 4.6% of high school graduates.
The report also notes that nearly one in eight U.S. high-school biology
teachers was not certified to teach biology. The average share of
biology teachers who are certified in a given state ranged from 50% to
100% in data collected by the Council of Chief State School Officers
(CCSSO), although 88% of biology teachers are certified nationally on
The study and individual state profiles are available at: http://bio.org/battelle2009
Battelle is the world's largest non-profit independent research and
development organization, providing innovative solutions to the world's
most pressing needs through its four global businesses: Laboratory
Management, National Security, Energy Technology, and Health and Life
Sciences. It advances scientific discovery and application by
conducting $5.2 billion in global R&D annually through contract
research, laboratory management and technology commercialization. Headquartered
in Columbus, Ohio, Battelle oversees 20,400 employees in more than 130
locations worldwide, including seven national laboratories which
Battelle manages or co-manages for the U.S. Department of Energy and the
U.S. Department of Homeland Security and two international
laboratories?a nuclear energy lab in the United Kingdom and a renewable
energy lab in Malaysia.
BIO is the world's largest biotechnology organization, providing
advocacy, business development and communications services for more than
1,200 members worldwide. Their mission is to be the champion of
biotechnology and the advocate for our member organizations?both large
The Biotechnology Institute is dedicated to educating teachers,
students, and the public about the promise and challenges of
biotechnology. Through year-round programs, the Institute is
creating a base of understanding and awareness about biotechnology among
teachers and students?and building the next generation of leaders in the
industry. Founded by the biotechnology community in 1998, the
Biotechnology Institute is an independent, national nonprofit
organization based in Arlington, VA.