September 2020 Church & State Magazine | People & Events

Public schools are doing a better job teaching evolution, a new report indicates.

The survey, conducted by Eric Plutzer at Penn State and commissioned by the National Center for Science Education, underscores improvements public schools have made in the last decade to boost education in this area.

When Plutzer surveyed teachers in 2007, he found that “only about one in three public high school biology teachers presented evolution consistently with the recommendations of the nation’s leading scientific authorities.” The 2007 data also showed that “13% of teachers emphasized to their students that creationism was a valid scientific alternative to modern evolutionary biology.” 

But Plutzer’s 2019 survey found “substantial reductions in overtly creationist instruction and in the number of teachers who send mixed messages that legitimate creationism as a valid scientific alternative to evolutionary biology.”  

The 2019 survey analyzed data from 752 public high school biology teachers. It found that over the last decade, teachers as a whole are spending more time teaching evolution. In 2007, the average amount of time spent on evolution was 9.8 hours, and in 2019 it was 12.4 hours (an increase of 25 percent). In addition, in 2007, 51 percent of high school biology teachers “emphasized the consensus on evolution while giving no credence to creationism.” By 2019, these numbers rose to 67 percent.