The 'education is terrible' trope made the rounds again last week, along with the predictable 'abysmal' charge leveled at teachers and students and attempts to keep America ahead in a globalized competitive landscape.

The Center for Geoscience Education and Public Understanding at the American Geosciences Institute doesn't want to be left out, so their report "Earth and Space Sciences Education in U.S. Secondary Schools: Key Indicators and Trends," offers baseline data on indicators of the subject's status and find that that school districts and other organizations fail to assign the Earth Sciences the same status as the physical and life sciences and overall Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM).

Only one of the nation's 50 states requires a year-long Earth/Environmental Science course for high school graduation, whereas 32 states require a Life Science course, and 27 require a Physical Science course, according to the report. Only six states require that students are taught Earth Science concepts as part of their graduation requirements. Detailed and analyzed are key indicators including:

  • presence of Earth Science topics in state and national standards;

  • consideration of Earth Science as a graduation requirement;

  • evaluation of Earth Science concepts on high-stakes assessments; and

  • acceptance of Earth Science courses for college admission.

Recommendations for better treatment of Earth Science subject matter include changes in the subject's relevance to graduation requirements, the discipline's presence on assessments, designation of Earth Science courses as laboratory courses, and establishment of an Advanced Placement Earth Science program.

The report is being launched as part of Earth Science Week, the international celebration of the Earth  Sciences that is organized by AGI and reaches over 50 million people with geoscience resources and information each year.