Skip to content

Study gives U.S. high schools low grade on standards in genetics education

A new study published in the latest issue of CBE-Life Sciences Education has found that more than 85 percent of states have genetics standards that are inadequate for preparing American high school students to understand and interact with increasingly personalized, genetics-based medicine.

The study, which was conducted by the American Society of Human Genetics (ASHG), evaluated the quality of life sciences and biology curriculum at high schools in all 50 states and the District of Columbia with respect to genetics. A list of 15 "core concepts" in genetics appropriate for students up to grade 12 was developed by the ASHG and used in the comprehensive analysis. A group of 167 members of the ASHG's Genetics Education Outreach Network, a volunteer network of geneticists across the nation who work in K-12 schools, were recruited to assist in the nationwide evaluation of genetics education. The authors wrote:

Our results indicate that the states' genetics standards, in general, are poor, with more than 85% of the states receiving overall scores of Inadequate. In particular, the standards in virtually every state have failed to keep pace with changes in the discipline as it has become genomic in scope, omitting concepts related to genetic complexity, the importance of environment to phenotypic variation, differential gene expression, and the differences between inherited and somatic genetic disease.

Among the findings:

  • Only seven states have genetics standards that were rated as 'adequate' for genetic literacy (Delaware, Illinois, Kansas, Michigan, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Washington).
  • Of the 19 core concepts in genetics that were deemed essential by ASHG, 14 were rated as being covered inadequately by the nation as a whole (or were absent altogether).
  • Only two states, Michigan and Delaware, had more than 14 concepts (out of 19) rated as adequate. Twenty-three states had six or fewer concepts rated as adequate.

Previously: The need to rethink science education, Do high school papers hint at the state of science education?, High school students share their experiences in CIRM-funded internship program, Stanford's med school training programs in full swing and Teens interested in medicine encouraged to "think beyond the obvious"
Via Science Daily
Photo by Christopher Webb

Popular posts