Some of you like myself might be looking out for a local school with a solid high school science program for your kids. Occasionally featured in the news are stellar teaching methods or teachers, support programs for the teaching of science in what are called SUPER SCIENCE HIGH SCHOOLS. Just exactly what are Super Science High Schools?
Super Science High Schools (SSH) (スーパーサイエンスハイスクール) are upper secondary schools that prioritize science, technology, and mathematics and in so doing that receive the SSH designation awarded by the Japanese Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT). The program was launched as part of its “Science Literacy Enhancement Initiatives” in 2002. SSH schools with this status receive increased funding and are encouraged to develop links with universities and other academic institutions.
To understand the organizational setup structure and support for SSHs, look at the diagram chart at this website.
In the past decade, there emerged a widening gap in academic student achievement across the country with many students complaining they did not like science or math, that resulted MEXT setting the guidelines for math education at the below average level in an attempt to reduce the burden for students. What followed were then complaints from university professors that the achievement level of students was decreasing to the level where they could not compute basic calculations such as fractions.
MEXT then took upon itself the aim of producing creative students with a high level ability in science and math, and to do so, it recognized the need to nurture scientific talents in order to promote comprehensive research and development in line with its “Science and Technology Basic Plan” at the end of March 2001, which included curriculum development for gifted students in science and mathematics. Then the Super Science High School (SSH) project was started in 2002, the purpose of which was to develop a curriculum in mathematics, physics, biology, chemistry, and earth science for gifted and mature students. The three-year project was inaugurated in 2002 and each high school participates for 3 years. MEXT selects 26 high schools every year. Seventy-seven schools applied for the project in the first year. The budget for the project was 727,000,000 yen (about 6,000,000 dollars) for 26 schools in 2002, and 1,186,000,000yen (about 9,000,000 dollars) for 52 schools in 2003. Selected high schools are expected to develop curricula based on science and mathematics in cooperation with universities or research institutes. Specialists in each field and researchers in education for each subject make up the research group that will examine and analyze their activities and curricula.
In 2002, the first year of operation, 26 out of 77 applicant schools were awarded SSH status. In 2006 there are 99 schools with the designation and in 2007, there were 101 SSHs. You can find a list of Super Science High Schools below (Please find future updates at this link):
Source: 2003 Japan Science and Technology Agency