New draft science standards call upon students to think and act like scientists, gathering data, analyzing it and communicating their results.

“We’re testing this out,” said Ellen Kramer, a Millard Public Schools educator who served on the writing team for the Nebraska Department of Education. “We want to be ahead of the curve when the standards come out.”

The draft standards list what officials believe students should know and be able to do from kindergarten to high school.

The Big Bang theory, climate change, evolution and genetically modified organisms are among the topics addressed. On these weighty topics, the standards push students to draw their own conclusions after analyzing data.

For instance, the standards would prompt students to analyze global climate models to forecast the rate and scale of global or regional climate changes. The phrase “climate change” is not in the current standards.

Under the standards, students would be expected to understand the factors causing natural selection and the process of evolution of species over time, including “how multiple lines of evidence contribute to the strength of scientific theories of natural selection and evolution.” In the current standards, students do explore biological evolution as a theory.

 

The standards borrow from the Next Generation Science Standards. Those standards were developed by the National Research Council with states and other partners, including the National Science Teachers Association and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. As of last year, 18 states and the District of Columbia had adopted the Next Generation Science Standards. Iowa adopted a modified version.

 

 

If adopted by the State Board of Education next fall, the standards would replace standards adopted in 2010. School districts must, within a year, adopt state standards or their own standards of equal or greater rigor.

The draft of standards can be viewed at www.education.ne.gov. The board expects to add a link from the website to a survey for people to comment.

Adoption by the State Board of Education is anticipated in September.

Click here to read the full article in the Omaha World-Herald (May 5, 2017)

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