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to make the latest updates, pleading to members for more than a year, saying that their classroom learning goals were outdated and sometimes based on since-disproven material.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 www.surveymonkey.com/r/UTSEEd90DayReview.

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

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