As schools nationwide take on the most comprehensive overhaul of science standards in 20 years, a school district in a quiet suburb of Los Angeles has become a pace-setter. Without relying on outside funding, or major grant money, Torrance Unified has trained more than 500 teachers and has unveiled the new standards to all 24,000 students in the district.
By devoting thousands of hours to teacher training, the district has shown teachers from kindergarten through 12th grade how to explain scientific phenomenon in a new way to their students — by letting the students discover the answers on their own, instead of memorizing facts from a textbook.
“We feel science is the center of a good education, so this has been a priority for us from the beginning. But there are fundamental things we’ve done that all districts can do,” said Amy Argento, one of three classroom science teachers the district assigned to train their colleagues. “What we’ve done is replicable anywhere. Any district can do this.”
The new standards, called Next Generation Science Standards, were introduced nationally in 2013, in response to concerns among science educators, political leaders and many others that K-12 science instruction in the United States trails behind many other industrialized countries.
So far, 19 states and the District of Columbia have adopted the standards, California was among the first. Stressing hands-on projects and critical thinking, the new standards represent a significant shift for most teachers — not just a change in subject matter, but to a new way of teaching, with less emphasis on textbooks and classroom lectures and more on open-ended scientific inquiry.
Click here to read the full story in Ed Source (December 10, 2017)