Utah Board of Education Gives Go-ahead to Draft New Science Standards

After past sparring over hot-button topics like evolution and climate change, Utah Board of Education gives go-ahead to draft new science standards

The Utah State Board of Education greenlit plans Thursday (April 12) to begin drafting new school science standards, a process likely to touch on divisive issues like climate change and evolution.

The state last approved new middle school science standards in 2015, which were based partially on the Next Generation Science Standards, a series of education benchmarks developed by a consortium of national experts.

But what is taught in Utah classrooms for grades kindergarten through five, and nine through twelve was unaffected by that change, and those guidelines for science curricula remain between seven and 15 years old.

After months of pleading by Utah science educators to cohere science standards for all grade levels, the board voted in November to charge a State Standards Review Committee, comprised of parents and educators, to study and recommend elementary and high school science curriculums.

Board members also requested in March that the committee include a “crosswalk” breakdown directly comparing elements of the current curriculum compares to NGSS.

Click here to read the full story in the Salt Lake Tribune (April 13, 2018)

 

How Soon Will the New New York State Science Standards Be in Your Child’s School?

CAZENOVIA, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) – Students across New York state will soon notice a gradual roll-out of the state’s new science standards.

Recently, NewsChannel 9 was given a rare behind-the-scenes look at how the new standards incorporate lesson study and maintain a focus on engineering. The observation took place at Burton Street Elementary in Cazenovia while second-graders tackled a soil erosion project called, “Save the Sand Towers.”

OCM-BOCES is one partner in a leadership team that includes help from the Syracuse University School of Education. Members are helping teachers prepare for the new state science standards before they are fully implemented into curriculum at all schools at all grade levels.

“These were officially approved by the Board of Regents last July, so the state has picked a slow roll-out, which I think is really important,” said Whisher-Hehl, the OCM-BOCES coordinator of innovative teaching and learning. “The tests are not slated to change for a handful of years. Right now they are developing feedback from the field to make a road map for when the new test will be rolled out.”

“These standards were developed specifically for equity and access. They were developed to have a set of science standards that really work for all kids and that all kids could have a strong foundation,” explained Whisher-Hehl. “Secondly, they were designed to help kids gain skills and understandings that will move beyond science, so it includes content, but also includes the scientific and engineering practices.

Click here to read the full story on WSYR-TV website (April 10, 2018)

Measuring New Science Standards Is Hard. These Projects Aim to Change That

About 18 states have adopted the Next Generation Science Standards. And although these shared science expectations have been out for about five years, testing models that fully capture students’ grasp of them have lagged far behind. (So far, only a handful of states have updated their science tests to match.)

The NGSS poses some big technical challenges for the smarty-pants who develop student tests. For one, the NGSS expects students to learn primarily by interacting with phenomena and recording and analyzing data. That’s basically the inverse of how most of us learned science, in which a teacher explained a new concept and, if we were lucky, illustrated it through a lab.

New tests also needs to match the standards’ crosscutting concepts, such as being able to recognize patterns and understand scale and proportion.

Now, the American Association for the Advancement of Science has begun a new project to craft model test items related to the standards’ energy practices.

Click here to read the full story in Education Week (April 10, 2018) registration required

 

NGSS Expands Science Peer Review Panel

Achieve, a non-profit that focuses on college and career readiness, has announced new members of its Science Peer Review Panel. The additions will help the organization to expand its work evaluating lesson sequences and units designed for the Next Generation Science Standards and sharing high-quality examples online. Participants will receive ample professional development as part of their new roles.

Three-hundred people applied for the jobs. Those chosen will join a group of 38 other educators on the panel. Over half have identified engineering as an area of content experience, a high-need area for the focus of the Science panel’s work, and about half of the new peer reviewers have spent more than a decade as classroom teachers.

Click here to read the full story in T.H.E. Journal (March 21, 2018)

Worcester Polytechnic to Help Train Science, Math ‘Ambassadors’ in MA

WORCESTER – A local university is helping the state’s education department assemble a team of educators who will fan out across Massachusetts in the coming year to help school districts figure out how to implement the state’s new math and science standards in their classes.

The math and science/technology/engineering (STE) ambassador program, the first of its kind to be used by the education department, aims to train 35 “ambassadors” in total, who will not only use the expertise they acquire in their own districts, but also assist other school systems with the transition to the new standards.

The state has partnered with Worcester Polytechnic Institute’s STEM Education Center on the project. The university was one of several organizations that bid to take on the project, according to state officials. WPI’s role will be to help select and train local educators to be ambassadors and monitor those candidates’ progress assembling and training their own teams to assist with the implementation of the standards in their districts.

Click here to read the full story on Telegram.com (March 25, 2018)

Juneau Alaska School Officials Consider Teaching Climate Change

The Associated Press reports that Juneau school officials are considering adopting science education standards that include teaching middle and high school students about climate change.

Alaska’s Energy Desk reports the Juneau School District is borrowing some core ideas from the Next Generation Science Standards, which include providing students with an understanding of the relationship between human activity and the Earth.
Climate change is included in the state’s science education standards. The Alaska Department of Education says it’s largely up to the school districts to decide how the topic is taught.
Click here to read the story from KTVA radio (March 24, 2018)

Nonprofit Will Issue ‘Digital Badges’ for Science Units That Align With Standards

The nonprofit group Achieve, which advocates for better standards and assessments, has launched an interesting new initiative that brings together several trends: curricular alignment, digital badges or credentials, and open educational resources.

The initiative is meant to respond to the continuing challenge of ensuring that, in the nearly 20 states that have adopted the Next Generation Science Standards, the materials used for teaching and learning are aligned to the new expectations.

The NGSS’ complex structure includes three “dimensions,” generally outlining not just what students should know and be able to do but also the scientific tools and practices they need to master in order to investigate scientific topics. But too often new curricula are listed as aligned when they omit some of those features, said Chad Colby, an Achieve spokesman.

Click here to read the full story in  the Curriculum Matters blog in Education Week  (March 15, 2018)

Teacher Shortage, Lack of Supplies Hinder Rollout of New Science Standards in CA

ost teachers are embracing California’s new science standards, but the rollout has been hampered by teacher shortages, lackluster elementary science education, lack of supplies and other obstacles, according to a new report.

The report by the Public Policy Institute of California surveyed 204 school districts across California at the end of the 2016-17 school year about their progress in implementing the Next Generation Science Standards, which were adopted in 2013 and which schools are currently introducing.

“The upshot is that the vast majority of districts have high hopes for Next Generation Science Standards and believe the standards will improve students’ performance in science,” said Niu Gao, report co-author and research fellow at the institute. “But districts are facing a variety of challenges.”

The report found that some districts, especially those that are low-income or low-performing, are struggling to implement the new standards because of inadequate science labs, lack of materials and a shortage of credentialed science teachers, which has led to larger class sizes.

Click here to read the full story in Ed Source (March 12, 2018)

In the Classroom: Students Learn to Weather the Storm in Science

A fan sat in front of Middletown Middle School sixth-grader Morgan Speirs, slightly blowing her blond hair as she held a fake microphone.

“There’s a hurricane here in Ocean City, and winds are reaching more than 75 miles per hour,” she said, recording a mock news report for her class about a hurricane in Ocean City.

Morgan and her partner, Addie Betro, used Flipgrid, a student engagement video recording software, to record the news report that explains how technology can be used to mitigate the effects of a hurricane.

After Morgan and Addie record their video, they post it for other students, who log in to watch the videos and offer critiques.

“Having them watch each other’s videos creates a positive discourse that allows them to engage and bounce ideas off of each other,” said Middletown Middle School sixth-grade teacher Stacey Morrissey.

Under the Next Generation Science Standards, which Maryland adopted in 2013 but didn’t begin full statewide implementation until this school year, students are required to “analyze and interpret data on natural disasters, such as floods, hurricanes or volcanic eruptions, to forecast future catastrophic events and understand how the development of technologies is used to mitigate those effects.”

 

Click here to read the full story in the Frederick News-Post (March 9, 2018)