Oregon has new science standards and plans to roll out a new science test in 2018.
The Next Generation Science Standards were developed by 26 states, and 18 have signed on to use them. They were adopted in Oregon in 2014 and are being phased in now. Just as important as content are methods of scientific inquiry and cross-cutting concepts such as cause and effect or stability and change. The standards also emphasize hands-on learning.
According to Derek Brown, director of assessment at the Oregon Department of Education, “Because there is the expectation of higher-level thinking skills and the opportunity for students to demonstrate what they know, we would expect that the test would be more than a straight multiple-choice test, which is what we have now.”
Click here to read the full story in The Bulletin (May 8, 2016)
An update of science standards for Nebraska public schools is underway, and the Nebraska Department of Education is looking to the Next Generation Science Standards as a guide. Those standards weren’t around in 2010 when Nebraska last updated its own.
The state department worked with a consultant, the Mid-continent Research for Education and Learning, to compare Nebraska standards with the Next Generation ones. While the majority of the content was similar in both sets of standards, the depth of knowledge in the Next Generation standards, particularly in middle and high school levels, was at “a much higher level,” said Cory Epler, senior administrator for teaching and learning in the Nebraska Department of Education.
The Nebraska State Board of Education will convene Nebraska teachers, professors and other science professionals to update the state’s standards.
Click here to read the full story on Omaha.com (May 6, 2016)
On April 20, the Kansas Associated Press reported that a federal appeals court rejected a nonprofit group’s claim that science standards for Kansas public schools promote atheism.
“The 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver affirmed on Tuesday a lower court ruling that had dismissed the lawsuit brought by a nonprofit group calling itself Citizens for Objective Public Education.
At issue in the lawsuit are guidelines adopted in 2013 by the Kansas Board of Education that treat evolution and climate change as key scientific concepts.
The appeals court agreed with U.S. District Judge Daniel Crabtree that opponents of the standards had no standing to sue because they could not show an injury.
Its decision notes the standards themselves recommend objective curricula and allows districts the option not to adopt the standards or to teach alternative origins theories.”
Indian Prairie School District 204 in Naperville, Il, is changing the way middle school students learn science.
After a month of debate, the school board Monday approved a new middle school curriculum and accompanying materials aimed at fulfilling the Next Generation Science Standards. Instead of regurgitating information from a teacher’s lecture or textbook, students will be given an inquiry concept to explore through activities.
Click here to read the full story in the Chicago Tribune (April 5, 2016)
In this op ed in the Baltimore Sun, two leading scientists Norman Augustine and S. James Gates, say science should be seen as a core subject for students, not just an afterthought or add-on.
They discuss their support for the Maryland Next Generation Science Standards as a way to help students think like scientists by asking questions, solving problems and analyzing outcomes. Newly created jobs will (and already do) put a premium on these habits of mind.
“Scientific thinking informs and enhances all that we do. It gives students an understanding of the world around them, inspires curiosity and discovery and inculcates logical thinking. And it leads to careers in any number of the growing science-related fields that cry out for new employees.”
Click here to read the full op ed in the Baltimore Sun (April 6, 2016)
Norman Augustine (email@example.com) is the retired chairman and CEO of Lockheed-Martin, and former member of the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology under Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush. S. James Gates (firstname.lastname@example.org) is University System Regents Professor, the John S. Toll Professor of Physics at the University of Maryland, College Park, the Center for String and Particle Theory Director, and serves on the U.S. President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST); he is also vice president of the Maryland State Board of Education.
Education Week‘s Liana Heiten provides an insightful look at status of the adoption and implementation of the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) and offers up 8 things you should know about the standards, such as “the standards prize performance over memorization,” and “they include a lot of engineering and design.”
Even though there has been some pushback regarding the standards’ language on climate change, she notes that “the train is chugging along on these science standards,” and that “More states will adopt, more teachers will implement, and there will be assessments soon enough.”
Click here to read Liana’s Curriculum Matters blog post in Education Week (February 23, 2016)
Congratulations to Hawaii! On February 16, 2016, its state board of education voted to adopt the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) and will implement them over four years starting in the 2016-17 school years.
As of February 2016, 17 states and the District of Columbia have adopted the NGSS and are working to implement them in districts and schools. The 17 states include Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, Nevada, New Jersey, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington.
Click here to read the EdWeek blog. (Feb 17, 2016)
Push back from Delaware district leaders, as well as pressures to reduce the state’s testing burden, stopped a proposal to create new state-mandated science and social studies tests for grades 3-10 that would have increased the amount of time students spend taking statewide standardized tests by roughly 25 percent.
Delaware is rebooting and now looking for a new science test that aligned with the Next Generation Science Standards. The updated plan is to roll out that new exam as a field test in 2017-18, one year later than anticipated. It will replace the DCAS science exam currently given in grades 5, 8, and 10.
Whatever test the state ends up choosing, officials no longer intend to increase the amount of hours students spend taking statewide assessments for science and social studies. For each subject area, the state will test students once in elementary school, once in middle school, and once in high school, as is required by federal law.
Click here to read the article in NewsWorks (February 5, 2016)
A recent segment on WCAI radio in Massachusetts focused on how science issues, such as climate change and genetically modified organisms, touch each of us every day. It’s important that the public be able to understand science so that when they look for information, they are able to discern reliable sources from misinformation, and assemble a big picture from all the puzzle pieces. These skills, including critical thinking, data analysis, and reasoning, are front and center in new science education standards, called Next Generation Science Standards. Education experts say it’s not enough for students to regurgitate memorized facts; they need to be able to explain the concepts behind such facts and combine them to construct new ideas.
Click here to read the full WCAI segment by Heather Goldstone. (January 26, 2016)
In 2013, Kansas became the third state to adopt the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). In a letter to The Topeka-Capital Journal online, Brian Cole, a science teacher and president of the Kansas Association of Teachers of Science, talks about the new standards as a way to “greatly improve science education for our kids and all students in Kansas.”
“For too long our science standards have been focused on terminology and factual knowledge of science. Current research informs us how the students of today learn best. Students in Kansas classrooms need to be engaged in science. Students need to “do” science, to explore and use the practices and thinking of scientists and engineers while applying and exploring science concepts. That’s when science learning truly happens and students really come to understand and retain content.”
Click here to read the letter in The Topeka-Capital Journal online (cjonline.com, January 19, 2015)