Physics First in Woonsocket, Portsmouth and Elsewhere

Since we devoted space last week to education problems in Woonsocket, I think it’s only fair that we note the city’s (and other city and town’s) initial successes with a Rhode Island science education initiative that’s been showing some promise. From Gina Macris, in today’s Projo

With the backing of the state, Woonsocket and five other high schools have moved physics class from its longtime status as a junior-year course to one offered to freshmen, a change they hoped would improve the teaching of all sciences and motivate students to pursue more advanced study. Biology and chemistry follow.
And there are signs the effort is beginning to pay off.
In Portsmouth, for example, the demand for Advanced Placement science courses in physics, biology, chemistry and other offerings has nearly doubled since Physics First was introduced, from an enrollment of 41 students in the 2005-2006 school year to a total of 78 requests for next fall.
The idea of offering Physics First is gaining traction across the state as educators try to improve the dismal results of Rhode Island’s first-ever standardized science test. That test found that only 17 percent of the state’s high school juniors understood basic scientific concepts and skills.

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