Final Report
Presidential Task Force on K-12 Science


The American Chemical Society (ACS), the world’s largest scientific association, is federally chartered to promote chemistry in all its aspects.  A central concern of the ACS has always been chemical education.  In the past 25 years, the ACS has developed numerous programs to support the teaching and learning of science at the K-12 levels.  The ACS has also established a range of science education policies that it will support through its public affairs activities at the Federal, state, and local levels.  An ACS Presidential Task Force composed of ACS members representing various entities of the Society was appointed to study and make recommendations regarding long-term and immediate actions. These actions could be taken to significantly enhance our existing efforts to help improve the quality of K-12 science education nationwide.  After extensive discussions, the Task Force identified the three most pressing issues requiring additional attention at the K-12 level, and formulated recommendations that address these issues at four different levels: (1) Federal government, (2) state governments, (3) local communities, and (4) the American Chemical Society.  The Task Force recognized that many groups and individuals nationwide have been working on these issues for some time.  Nevertheless, they are confident that that enhanced efforts by the ACS could contribute to an acceleration of the pace at which reform is proceeding, in particular through the enhanced political involvement of the ACS and its individual members in science education reform.  Recommendations addressing each of the issues at all four levels follow.

ISSUE  1:  There is an insufficient number of qualified science and mathematics teachers available nationwide at the K-12 levels.


(1)  Federal Level:

a)  The National Science Foundation (NSF) and the U.S. Department of Education (DOED) need increased funding for programs to support the preparation of  science and mathematics teachers.

b) NSF and DOED need increased funding to support the continuing professional development of science and mathematics teachers.  This should include funds specifically set-aside for the continuing education of science and mathematics teachers through state and local programs (e.g., the reinstitution of the Eisenhower program).

(2)  State Level:

a)    States need to find ways to improve the teaching environment and  to make the teaching profession more attractive to future and current K-12 science and mathematics teachers.  This should include increased funding for teacher salaries, teaching resources, and educational facilities.

b) All states need to consider providing more funds to support the professional development of science and mathematics teachers.

c) While many states have already done so, all states need to streamline certification for science and mathematics teachers and provide alternative track certification for future teachers with strong science credentials but little educational experience.

(3)  Community Level:

a) While many already do so, more local businesses and corporations should form  partnerships with school districts to provide materials, equipment, and other resources to schools, and incentives, rewards, and recognition to deserving science and mathematics teachers.

b) Businesses should also be encouraged to find ways to support professional development activities for science and mathematics teachers.

c)  Support and lobby state congressmen to pass legislation to increase funding to support higher salaries for science and mathematics teachers, and for supplies and educational materials for teaching science and mathematics in the public schools.

(4)  American Chemical Society

a) The Society should increase the number of science education workshops it offers to elementary teachers.

b) The Society should explore ways to assist in the development of new inquiry-based university chemistry courses to reeducate and revitalize science teachers.

c)  The Society should consider a variety of novel ways to itself support the continuing education of high school chemistry teachers and elementary science teachers.

d)  The Society should increase its efforts to provide resources to serve communities that want to make improvements in science education.

e) ACS members should be encouraged to lobby state legislators to pass legislation for increased funding to support higher salaries for science and mathematics teachers and for the provision of adequate supplies and educational materials for teaching science and mathematics at the K-12 levels.

f)  ACS members should take the lead in organizing community coalitions for the improvement of science and mathematics education.

ISSUE 2:  Despite significant advances nationwide over the past five years, many states still need to increase the number of credits of science and mathematics that all students must take to earn a high school diploma.


(1) Federal Level:

a) Congress should be encouraged to consider expanding legislation to require science and mathematics literacy testing at both the elementary and secondary levels for all students at specified grade levels.

(2) State Level:

a) State decision-makers should consider enacting legislation to require 12 years of science and 12 years of mathematics education for every student.

b) States should not only establish science literacy standards for all K-12 students but should ensure that student performance is assessed regularly by tests that are aligned with the existing state standards.

c) All states should require that all high school students have at least  four years of science and four years of mathematics credits for graduation.

(3) Community Level:

a)  Support and lobby congressmen to increase science and mathematics standards for all students at all levels of K-12.

b) Take an active role in local parent-teacher associations or other school support groups to encourage science and mathematics literacy for all students.

c) Business and industry, institutions of higher learning, and community groups should work together to enhance science education within their communities.

d) Local alliances of business, industry, and academia should play a vital role in translating standards, frameworks, and assessments from the realm of abstract principles to the world of the actual classroom.

(4) American Chemical Society:

a) The ACS should strongly reaffirm its current policy that all K-8 students take both science and mathematics every year.

b) The ACS should change its current policy supporting three years of science for high school students to a new policy recommending that all high school students take four years of science and four years of mathematics.

c) ACS should modify its current policy to make it explicit that it believes that all high school students should study chemistry.

d) ACS members should be encouraged to take an active role in local parent-teacher associations, and other school support groups, to promote science and mathematics literacy for all students.

e) Encourage ACS members to serve as voluntary advocates promoting education reform.

ISSUE 3:  Despite recent national efforts to increase the overall requirements in science and mathematics content in the curriculum for future science and mathematics teachers, there is still a need to ensure that science and mathematics teachers are given the content background necessary to be truly effective in the classroom.


(1) Federal Level:

a)  Both NSF and DOED should be provided with additional funds to expand their current efforts to support the development of more rigorous education programs to prepare science and mathematics teachers.

b) Both NSF and DOED should expand current efforts to disseminate information about model science and mathematics teacher training programs that are producing teachers who are well trained in both the content and pedagogy of teaching science and mathematics.

(2)  State Level:

a) State requirements for teacher certification in science and mathematics should be strengthened, including requirements for teachers expected to teach outside of  their main field of certification.

b) States should make more scholarships available to those students who are involved in rigorous teacher education programs designed to increase their content knowledge in science and mathematics.

(3)  Community Level:

a) Businesses should be encouraged to use their resources to provide instructional materials and to support new teacher training programs that emphasize enhanced science and mathematics core content.

b) Businesses should consider becoming advocates for increased science and mathematics literacy of  teachers and students through involvement in the day-to-day work of policy development at the state and national levels.

(4) American Chemical Society:

a)  The ACS should make resources available to assist in development of  novel university chemistry courses to train new science teachers, based on the recommendations of the National Science Education Standards.

b)   The ACS Committee on Professional Training should be encouraged in its current efforts to revise its existing option for an ACS Approved Degree in Chemical Education to attract more chemistry departments, and thus students to the program.

c)   The ACS, through its Society Committee on Education, should consider defining model curricula for teacher preparation programs in chemical and science education at both the elementary and secondary levels.

Respectfully Submitted,
Dr. E. Ann Nalley,  Chair
Professor of  Chemistry
Cameron University

Taskforce Members: : E. Ann Nalley - Chair, Alan Sadurski, David Katz, Richard Hark, Marsha Phillips,  Keith Vitense, Frank Torre, Maurice Smith, Donald Clarke, Dorothy Lehmkuhl, Jean Delfiner, Don Rickter, Dale Chatfield,  Zafra Lerman (Consultant)

Staff: Michael Tinnesand, Staff Liaison: Janet Boese

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