Connecticut schools tackle climate change and evolution

The new head of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Scott Pruitt, says carbon dioxide is not a primary cause of climate change — despite a clear scientific consensus that it is.

But a recent survey showed that most Americans, and most Connecticut residents, accept climate change as a fact. Seventy percent of Americans over 25, and 72 percent of Connecticut residents, agreed with the proposition that global warming is happening.

And if climate change is controversial among today’s adults, it’s likely to be much less controversial among tomorrow’s: Climate change — and similarly controversial topics like evolution — are taught as the accepted scientific consensus in Connecticut biology and environmental classes.

The state is in the midst of converting school science curriculum to the Next Generation Science Standards, an inquiry-based program created by several states, the National Research Council, the National Science Teachers Associationand the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Under the standards, teachers will increase the number of lessons on climate change and related environmental topics.

Click here to read the full story in the Connecticut News Times (March 19, 2017)

Embracing new ways of teaching science and language with English learners

In an opinion piece in Education Dive, Okhee Lee, a professor of Childhood Education at New York University and a writer of the Next Generation Science Standards, shares the opportunities to support teaching science and language with English learners.

She writes that student demographics across the U.S. are changing, and English learners make up a fast-growing subset of the student population. New science standards are being adopted in many states, including those in New York modeled closely on the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). The NGSS provide opportunities not only for rigorous science learning but also for rich language use. Realizing this vision for promoting rigorous science learning and rich language use with English learners will require innovative approaches to classroom teaching, curriculum design, assessment, and teacher preparation and professional development.

Click here to read the full story in Education Dive (March 17, 2017)

New science standards to be phased into Louisiana classrooms

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) – Louisiana’s new science standards for public schools will be phased into classrooms, taking full effect by the 2018-19 school year.

The Board of Elementary and Secondary Education gave final approval Wednesday to the rewrite of the state’s 2-decades-old teaching benchmarks with no discussion.

The upcoming 2017-18 school year will include teacher training and field testing in the new science standards, according to the education department. They will be fully implemented a year later.

On Tuesday, board members spent much of the afternoon listening to testimony about the standards, with some people saying the benchmarks should include language encouraging science teachers to challenge evolution.

In response, the education board added a provision referencing a 2008 state law that allows public school teachers to use supplemental materials to promote “critical thinking skills” in areas such as evolution and global warming. Critics call the law a backdoor way to introduce creationism into science classes, which supporters of the law deny.

Click here to read the full story published by the Associated Press. (March 8, 2017)

Lighting the way for STEM students

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, Hispanic students are the largest minority group in the public school system, but many studies — including a 2016 article in US News & World Report — indicates the Latino demographic makes up less than 10 percent of the STEM workforce.

Part of this is because only about two-thirds of Latino students nationwide have access to advanced math and science offerings in school, and many students and families are not aware of the opportunities available for them in STEM.

Click here to read the full story in the Ventura County Star (March 11, 2017)

New (IL) test will show students’ understanding of state science standards

The Illinois State Board of Education is in the process of scoring a statewide test that will give educators information they can use to improve students’ understanding of science in the future.

More than 400,000 fifth-graders, eighth-graders and high school students took the Illinois Science Assessment for the first time in spring 2016. They were tested on the new science standards that were adopted in 2014.

Click here to read the full story in the Belleville News-Democrat (March 7, 2017)

Idaho lawmakers remove climate change from standards for now, but schools already teach it

On Monday, the Idaho Senate Education Committee joined the House Education Committee in deleting standards regarding the human impact on climate change in new science standards they approved. Lawmakers say they want more balance in the standards and looking all side of climate change.

Their decision is temporary, rather than setting a permanent course for science education in Idaho. Both the Senate and House committee will get another shot at the climate change standards next year, when they come back for final approval. Many parents, teachers and scientists hope the new standards will reflect some of their concerns about making sure children learn about the changing planet.
Click here to read the full story in the Idaho Statesman (February 27, 2017)

Panel in South Dakota defeats bill allowing alternative science theories

South Dakota lawmakers defeated a bill that would have allowed teachers to address strengths and weaknesses of scientific theories like evolution and climate change.

The House Education Committee voted to send the bill to the 41st day, effectively killing the proposal, on an 11-4 vote.

Opponents from the South Dakota Department of Education, various education advocacy groups, teachers and others stood to oppose it saying it was unnecessary and could allow teachers to instruct on alternative theories not approved by local school boards.

Click here to read the full story in the Argus Leader (February 22, 2017)

 

New Data: New Science Standards Are Boosting Engineering in Schools

According to Change the Equation, efforts to make engineering part of the K-12 curriculum are beginning to pay off.

Why? They indicate that the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) are succeeding in their aim to integrate engineering and technology into science classrooms. These standards debuted in April 2013, and eight states adopted them by the end of that year: California, Delaware, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington State.

They looked at data from the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) eighth-grade science test to see if schools in those eight states were teaching more engineering and technology. They found that between 2011 and 2015, teachers in the first states to adopt the standards increased the amount of class time they spent on engineering and technology. One striking finding from theiranalysis is that the early adopter states started from behind.

Click here to read the full story at Change the Equation (February 21, 2017)

NGSS Gets OER PD for Making Science Accessible

As teachers develop new, three-dimensional formative assessments aligned to the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), a new collaborative process is producing open educational resources (OER) to help them reach every student.

The “Advancing Coherent and Equitable Systems of Science Education” (ACESSE, pronounced “access”) project is a is a partnership between the Council of State Science Supervisors, the schools of education at the University of Colorado Boulder and the University of Washington. The project received a three-year, $1.5 million grant from the National Science Foundation to support the work.

“We want to expand diversity in STEM fields. And for that, we need to improve access to quality STEM education around the country by making learning opportunities more coherent and aligned,” said Bill Penuel, principal investigator for the project and professor of learning sciences and human development at CU Boulder, in coverage on the Institute for Science + Math Education website.

Click here to read the full story in T.H.E Journal (February 14, 2017)

Louisiana to Consider New Standards for Teaching Science

According to Education Week, next month, Louisiana’s state board of elementary and secondary education is expected to vote on new science standards.

A committee worked for six months to produce new standards for the state, which currently has some of the oldest science standards in the nation. The group voted nearly unanimously to approve the standards last week.

Under the new benchmarks, there are fewer standards per grade level with more opportunities for students to dig deeper into the subject.

Click here to read the full story in Education Week/registration required. (February 22, 2017)