New Study Shows Significant Increase in Teaching of Evolution over Creationism in Public Schools

Milton Quintanilla | Contributor for  | Tuesday, June 16, 2020

Over the last 12 years, the teaching of creationism in public high schools across the U.S. has declined while the time devoted to teaching the theory of evolution has sharply increased, a new study finds.

The study, titled “Teaching evolution in U.S. public schools: a continuing challenge,” was released by Evolution: Education and Outreach, a peer-reviewed journal that seeks to advocate for the comprehensive teaching of evolutionary theory, last week.

According to the Christian Post the study was conducted by political science professor Eric Plutzer of Penn State University alongside Glenn Branch and Anne Reid from the National Center for Science Education, a California nonprofit that equips teachers in teaching evolution and climate change.

The study relied on surveys of 752 public high school biology teachers.

The NCSE noted that the study was meant to “replicate a similar national survey that Plutzer and his colleagues conducted in 2007.”

The 2019 study found that from 2007 to 2019 in U.S. public schools, there was a 60 percent increase in the average number of class hours geared towards teaching evolution and a seven percent increase in teachers who chose not to teach on creationism or intelligent design at all.

“We find a 60 percent increase in the mean number of class hours reported as devoted to human evolution, from 4.1 to 7.7 class hours,” the authors of the report noted.

Further, about 25 percent of evolutionary processes-based teaching increased from an average of 9.8 class hours in 2007 to 12.4 class hours in 2019.

The 2007 survey showed that 51 percent of high school biology teachers stressed that evolutionary theory held a “broad consensus” that it “is a fact, even as scientists disagree about the specific mechanisms.” At the same time, the same percentage of teachers gave “no credence to creationism as science.”

But the 2019 study showed that the amount increased from 51 percent to 67 percent for teachers not giving credence to Creationism while holding that evolution has a broad consensus to be “fact.”

While an increase of the teaching of evolution was evident, the study also found that 60 percent of teachers who taught creationism held that to their own personal religious belief.

“There are still teachers who give credence to creationism in their classrooms,” Branch noted in a blog post about the study. “But their numbers are dwindling, from almost a third in 2007 to less than one in five in 2019.”

A possible reason for more teaching on evolution is because teachers were adopting the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), in which Branch explained that “evolution is included as a disciplinary core idea of the life sciences, played a substantial role.”

Reid also cited “much credit” for the adoption of NGSS, “a set of benchmarks released in 2011 that emphasizes evolution as a core concept.”

“The 44 U.S. states that have adopted these, or standards based on the same framework, have seen the greatest improvements,” Reid asserted in an article by Nature, a weekly scientific journal.

The report concluded that “scientific and educational institutions” should continue adding “scientific rigor to standards”, finding and promoting resources that “cover evolution thoroughly” while aiding teachers who are pressured by “parental or community members who resist evolution instruction or advocate for the inclusion of creationism.”

Photo courtesy: ©Getty Images/Andrea Obzerova

Milton Quintanilla is a freelance writer. Visit his blog Blessed Are The Forgiven.

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