– The United States trails most countries in the mean science achievement of the general student population and among students expecting to pursue STEM majors or careers. Lack of curricular standardization in the United States is related to this lower science achievement.
– Countries with higher curricular standardization exhibit higher average science achievement scores; science achievement and students’ future orientation toward science are also better aligned in these countries.
– Although aspiring students in the United States achieve more in the sciences than the general U.S. student population, their mean achievement and proficiency levels are still lower than those of their counterparts in other countries.
– More standardized educational systems show a stronger linkage between science performance and future orientation toward study or a career in science, such that high achievers in science indicate a greater likelihood of pursuing science-based majors and careers in the future. This relationship may be due in part to the fact that standardized systems provide students with valuable information about their standing relative to the general student population that students use in their subsequent educational decisions and career choices.
– It is possible that in countries that lack curricular standardization, such as the United States, students do not receive such clear signals about their performance in specific academic domains and thus their science achievement and their interest in science are less aligned.
– At the individual level, students with higher levels of science self-efficacy and those who spend more time learning science and in science-related activities have higher science achievement scores, net of other factors.
-These findings suggest that devoting more hours of the school day to learning science and providing opportunities for students to engage in science-related activities may be promising avenues to boost student achievement in science.