PA Educators Want Science Standards to do More Than Teach Students to Win on Jeopardy!

Soon after students settled into their seats, Jeff Remington directed them to begin downloading an application on their school-issued iPads that would teach them about the language – called coding – that tells computers what to do.

Then he flipped on an 8-minute video explaining why coding is something the Palmyra Middle School students should know: Tech companies anticipate the need for a million more coders over the next decade.

Remington interrupted the video to make sure students took note of the playground-like atmosphere that tech companies, like the one in the video, offer in hopes that playing video games and riding scooters down hallways will entice prospective employees.

“You don’t even need a college degree for some of these jobs. You saw the life that you lead by working for these companies,” Remington told the class.

“This is where we got to be moving.”

Remington and other educators want students across Pennsylvania to see science as a way to fulfill their dreams. Educators said the state needs to adopt a new set of science standards that helps public school students recognize that science is part of everyday life.

Specifically, educators like Remington are calling on the state to adopt the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) or a state-developed set of learning expectations adapted to them. They say the new standards would deliver science education more consistently and effectively across Pennsylvania’s schools.

Click here to read the full story in PA Penn Live (January 14, 2019)

NSTA Note: Jeff Remington is a 2017 NSTA STEM Teacher Ambassador. Click here to learn more about Jeff and the other Ambassadors.

These 5 Trends Will Dominate STEM + Education in 2019

100Kin10 released its annual Trends Report, a synthesis of thousands of data points that predict trends and “look-aheads” that will define STEM and education in 2019. Second on the list was the hunger by many teacher for more high-quality NGSS resources.

“In the nearly 20 states where the Next Generation Science Standards have been adopted, teachers and districts are facing the formidable task of bringing the new and more demanding standards to life. NGSS is meant to transform science education, but teachers tell us the transformation is slow in coming. 100Kin10’s Teacher Forum members continuously share frustrations with the lack of NGSS-aligned resources. Teachers don’t know where to look to find high-quality materials or examples of high-quality NGSS-aligned teaching. Fortunately, a number of 100Kin10 partners are working to fill this gap.

Click here to read the article featured in Forbes.

What Utah Kids Learn About Science, Including Climate Change and Evolution, is up for Debate With New Draft Standards

The Utah Board of Education voted to unveil science classroom guidelines for a 90-day public review after months of debate among members who disagreed over whether the new standards — based largely on what’s accepted nationwide — go too far in talking about human impact on the climate, rely “too much on theory and not fact,” or promote too secular a view of the world.

Utah science educators largely drove the board to make the latest updates, pleading to members for more than a year, saying that their classroom learning goals were outdated and sometimes based on since-disproven material.

“It didn’t really prepare kids for what science is, to discover and learn,” said Ricky Scott, a science specialist with the Utah Office of Education. “We really want to build thinkers and students who can reason through what’s happening in the world today.”

The writing committee that drafted the standards, made up of more than 80 teachers in every grade level and university professors from around the state, also included a large focus on engineering for the first time in elementary and high schools.

The instructional guidelines for all grades were drafted by looking at other states and the Next Generation of Science Standards, a series of education benchmarks developed by a consortium of national experts. The writing committee spent March to late October pulling together the new standards for Utah.

The board voted Thursday without much debate to release the draft guidelines to move the process forward — but still with time to revise — with the 90-day review period running through April 11. There will be six public hearings starting in January and going through March where parents and teachers can talk about changes they’d like to see, as well. They can also express any concerns in a survey at

Click here to read the full story in The Salt Lake Tribune (January 11, 2019)

Adoption of More Rigorous Standards May Help Explain Dip in Nebraska’s Science Scores

About 68 percent of Nebraska public school students tested as proficient in science last spring, down 2 percentage points from 2016-17 and 4 percentage points from 2015-16, the Omaha World-Herald reported . The scores were taken from fifth, eighth and 11th grades. Nebraska is moving to a new science test to reflect changing standards that come with the Nebraska Student-Centered Assessment System. The current test is measuring students’ proficiency against old standards set in 2010, not the new standards the state Board of Education approved last year.

Read news stories filed by the Omaha World-Herald (Dec. 23, 2018; registration required) and the Associated Press  (December 29, 2018)

Meeting New Science Standards Requires Greater Emphasis on Teacher Practice

As states implement the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), a new study finds that simply focusing on building teachers’ content knowledge in science isn’t sufficient to help students reach higher expectations. “These science learning goals pose a challenge for educators,” the authors write. “Typical K-12 science teaching practice does not come close to matching the kind of teaching needed to support such learning.”

Click here to read the full brief in Education DIVE.


New Science Standards, Strategic Plan Promote STEM Learning in Guam

The Guam Education Board has approved a new set of science standards and STEM strategic plan for public schools on island, the Guam Department of Education stated in a release Wednesday.

During a recent meeting, the education board adopted the GDOE Next Generation Science Standards and the Science Technology Engineering and Math, or STEM, Strategic Plan. According to GDOE, the new standards and strategic plan will support and encourage STEM education from kindergarten through 12th grade.

NGSS is a new set of science standards that identify essential ideas in science that all public school students should master in order to prepare for college or careers, the release stated. The STEM Strategic Plan will map out the department’s approach to integrate STEM curriculum throughout the district.

Click here to read the full story in the Guam Daily Post (December 13, 2018)

Teachers Back New MN Climate Education Standards, But Topic’s Still Hot

Kay Nowell is a veteran science teacher in the St. Michael-Albertville public schools. Still, she feels the need to tread lightly when the topic of climate change comes up in her classroom. Despite the facts, teaching climate change can bring a political backlash from parents and others who doubt the science.

“That’s always in the back of my mind,” she said, “because I want to teach kids, but I don’t want to push that envelope where I’m going to get a parent phone call.”

It’s one reason why Nowell and teachers across the state are welcoming proposed science education standards that would, for the first time in Minnesota, teach that humans are the primary cause of climate change.

While some educators already teach about humans’ impact on the climate, they say writing it into state standards would be added muscle if they face pushback from students or parents. And it would help ensure the topic gets taught.

“The more we can get it to be the norm, the easier my job would be because then it’s like, well I’m teaching what is required here because it’s been proven,” said Nowell, a high school teacher. “I’m not on my own.”

The Minnesota science education standards get an update every 10 years. A committee of K-12 educators, higher education representatives and community members create and revise the standards during a monthslong review and approval process.

Once they’re in place, teachers’ coursework must align with statewide standards, although individual educators and districts still have final say in how they present concepts to students.

Members of the public have opportunities to comment before the final standards take effect. So far, there has been a mix of reactions to the new climate change standards, said Josh Collins, the Minnesota Department of Education’s director of communications. No staff from the department sit on the committee writing the standards.

Click here to read the transcript of the piece that ran on Minnesota Public Radio (December 11, 2018)



West Ed Explores How California Districts are Approaching NGSS Implementation

West Ed’s Center for the Future of Teaching and Learning has unpacked the landscape of California State Standards implementation by examining key drivers of implementation such as funding, professional learning, and instructional shifts. Now, a new report looks across those domains to explore how districts are approaching implementation of the Next Generation Science Standards.

FINDING 1: Districts report a disconnect between the timeline for NGSS and capacity to implement. They’re constrained by a complexity of factors including inadequate instructional resources, and lack of bandwidth in the midst of ongoing math and ELA challenges.

FINDING 2: Half of all district leaders they spoke with have not begun allocating funds toward NGSS implementation. An additional quarter of district leaders report still being in the planning stages for funding NGSS implementation.

FINDING 3: District leader perceptions suggest that teachers may not yet have had time to benefit from the training and practice needed to master the instructional shifts demanded by the Next Generation Science Standards.

Click here to read the full report.



Teacher Lara Minnear Sparks Curiosity in Creekside Science Students

In Zeeland, Michigan, teacher Lara Minnear knows science class is about so much more than memorizing the facts about the water cycle, climate change and Newton’s laws. It’s about curiosity and inquisitiveness. In her class, she encourages a “frontloading culture,” encouraging students to step up as leaders in the classroom and think and act more like scientists instead of just memorizing basic facts. That’s also the mentality behind the Next Generation Science Standards, which were adopted by the state of Michigan in 2015. Minnear has been one of the leaders at Zeeland in implementing new curriculum to meet those standards.

Click here to read the full article in the Holland Sentinel (December 3, 2018)