If you think back to your grade school science classes and Schoolhouse Rock episodes, you might remember memorizing a lot of vocabulary words.

But science is more than words. It’s about wonder, curiosity and experimentation. The new Arizona Science Standards are meant to encourage a messy, hands-on approach to science. The Department of Education’s revisions [shown in green, here] shifted the focus—backward.

“As a professional, as a science educator, I just could not support teaching students this incorrect idea of what science is,” says Lacey Wieser, the department’s former director of K-12 science education. She resigned rather than implement the changes made during an unprecedented internal review.

“I think the changes really shift from the focus from this idea of science of discipline for helping students make sense of the world, to just really memorizing a body of facts,” Wieser says.

Wieser was alarmed by the addition of so-called “key concepts” to the standards. They look a lot like the old vocabulary terms emphasized in Arizona’s outdated standards from 2004. That’s just what the committee of experts who wrote the new document wanted to get away from. Another troubling change: Department staff deleted or qualified the word “evolution” throughout the document.


Educators complained the internal review was an overreach of power. Sara Torres, the executive director of the Arizona Science Teachers Association, says, “In the past internal reviews were always done for formatting issues and grammatical edits, and never to change the specific content of the standards.”


The draft standards for Science, and History and Social Science, are available for public comment until May 28. They’ll be submitted to the Board of Education for adoption this fall.

Click here to read the full story featured on KNAU Radio (May 14, 2018)


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