In the past six years, science has slipped as a priority in public schools while reading and mathematics have grown dominant.
But in coming years, experts say, the same federal law that elevated reading and math could spark a resurgence of science in the classroom.
The 2002 No Child Left Behind law required states to test students in science starting in the 2007-08 year, on top of reading and math assessments mandated from the start. Virginia has given science tests since 1998, but the exams are new for Maryland and the District. (Separately, Maryland tests high school students in biology as a graduation requirement.)
Unlike the reading and math test results, science scores won’t be used to grade schools for accountability. But education leaders predict that the scores will matter when disseminated to the public.