This 2007 report shares the findings of an audit conducted across thirty school districts in which the state of science labs was assessed. The audit was conducted by SuccessLink, with funding of the project from the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation. This study was conducted as part of the Kauffman Foundation's multi-year agenda to improve student achievement in mathematics, science, and technology subjects in the Greater Kansas City region.
Auditors visited 170 school buildings in thirty school districts over a five-month period during the 2006-2007 school year. They recorded observations on safety issues, science lab facilities, and equipment and materials. Auditors also conducted teacher interviews and provided online surveys to teachers and administrators in order to assess aspects of instruction, learning, and district policies. This data was then compared to standards set by the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA). The results indicate that science labs in the Kansas City region do not meet national standards and that much work needs to be done to bring the school science labs up to the national standards.
The audit identified five areas of concern and this report summarizes each area and makes recommendations for improvement. The five areas are: Safety, Facilities, Equipment and Materials, Instruction and Learning, and District Policies.
More than half of labs in the Kansas City region do not have enough space to facilitate effective student learning. Labs are not currently arranged in a way that meets NSTA recommendations (see Appendix B). Short of renovations, improvements can be made by rearranging the design of labs and reducing the number of students in each science lab class. Auditors also determined that science lab storage rooms are frequently cluttered, disorganized, and dusty.