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National tests show poor grasp of science



Published: Tue, November 20, 2001 @ 12:00 a.m.



National tests showpoor grasp of science

WASHINGTON -- Only one in five high school seniors has a solid grasp of science, according to the results of a national test released today.

Only about half know even the basics, and that figure plummets when it comes to what minority students know.

The 12th-graders who took the 2000 National Assessment of Educational Progress scored, on average, three points lower than those taking the test in 1996. In 2000, only 18 percent correctly tackled challenging science questions and applied their knowledge to real-world situations, down from 21 percent in 1996.

The proportion of those who knew just the basics also dropped, from 57 percent in 1996 to 53 percent in 2000.

Gerry Wheeler, executive director of the National Science Teachers Association, said he's not surprised at the poor results, considering that schools have increasingly focused on reading and math.

"Our nation continues to shortchange our students in science," he said.

The proportion of fourth- and eighth-graders who understand science appropriate to their grade level held steady -- 29 percent of fourth-graders, the same as in 1996. The percentage of "proficient" eighth-graders rose from 29 percent in 1996 to 32 percent last year.

Sixty-six percent of fourth-graders and 61 percent of eighth-graders have a basic, or partial, mastery of science knowledge and fundamental skills, results show.

Heart implant patientsuffers bleeding in brain

LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- The first recipient of a self-contained artificial heart suffered bleeding in his brain this week in the same area damaged by a stroke 10 days ago.

The latest setback caused swelling and made the patient, Robert Tools, 59, of Franklin, Ky., less responsive, implant surgeon Laman Gray said Monday.

"I called his name, 'Bob,' and he would squeeze my hand on his left side," Gray said. "He's just not as awake today as he was yesterday."

Tools received the AbioCor mechanical heart on July 2 at Jewish Hospital in Louisville. At the time, he was so ill he had been given little chance of living more than 30 days without it.

Tools improved after the implant and had even been able to dine out at restaurants and go fishing. Last month, doctors were hoping he would be able to go home for Christmas. But the stroke Nov. 11 left Tools partially paralyzed on his right side and unable to speak. He has been on a ventilator to help him breathe.

Doctors planned to cut a hole in his throat today, a procedure called a tracheotomy, so they can insert the ventilator's tube directly into his windpipe to make him more comfortable, Gray said.

Rebels resume warfare

ZAMBOANGA, Philippines -- A rebel faction rejected a 1996 peace agreement today, saying its surprise attack on an army base marked a renewed struggle for a Muslim homeland in the southern Philippines.

"The Moro National Liberation Front is now free from the bandit government, and we will return to our original struggle," said Abdulrahman Jamasali, spokesman for Nur Misuari, a former rebel leader and the governor of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao. On Monday, about 600 fighters from the rebel faction attacked an army camp in the deadliest fighting since the peace deal took effect.

The rebels killed four soldiers and seven civilians. At least 51 rebels died in a counterattack, the military said.

Associated Press




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