California Issues Draft NGSS Framework for Revising Science Ed

California has adopted a revised science framework intended to help its public schools transform instruction to mesh with the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). It claims to be the first state to do so. The framework offers guidance to educators and science content publishers on how to teach the standards in K-12.

The revision work kicked off in 2013 when state legislators approved adoption of changes to science education that incorporated NGSS. From there the State Board of Education recruited a focus group from among local education agencies, science, higher education and other “stakeholder” organizations to develop a framework for guiding the transition. A draft was issued in 2015 for public review, then again in 2016. In total, about 3,000 public comments were considered during the drafting process.

The new framework expands and refines coverage of climate change and adds engineering, environmental literacy and strategies to support girls and young women in science. It also encourages the teacher-as-facilitator model, in which he or she poses questions and students conduct experiments and projects to make discoveries.

Click here to read the full story in T.H.E. Journal (December 6, 2016)

Click here to  read the draft science framework.

Louisiana Seeks Public Input on Science Standards

According to the Louisiana News Star, the Louisiana Department of Education announced the launch of the Louisiana Student Standards Review Portal, which gives parents, educators and other stakeholders the opportunity to provide input on Louisiana’s Student Standards for science. The portal provides the public with the first look at the initial draft of the new standards and an opportunity to submit feedback.

The science standards review process, approved by the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education in June, is designed to replace Louisiana’s current grade-level expectations for science which were established in 2005.

All public comments received through the portal by Jan. 6 will be shared with the workgroups and committee and will be posted on the Department’s website.

In January, the content workgroups will review all feedback submitted through the portal, revise the standards accordingly, and present a final draft to the Standards Committee on Jan. 25. If needed, the content workgroups will meet again in early February to make final revisions to the standards before the Standards Committee reviews and approves the final draft at its Feb. 13 meeting, and presents it to BESE for approval in March.

Pending BESE’s approval, Louisiana educators will receive tools and resources to support the implementation of the new standards during the Teacher Leader Summit in June, and throughout the 2017-18 school year.

Click here to read the full story in the New Star (December 1, 2016)

Click here to access the Louisiana Student Standards Review Portal

School district committee proposes progressive student standards

Blaine County (Idaho) School District teachers and administrators are proposing new science and social/emotional learning standards.

During a school board meeting Nov. 8, Dan Vanden Heuvel, a biology and botany teacher at Wood River High School, said Idaho’s state science standards are lagging behind others’. He suggested that the School District join other Idaho districts in implementing higher standards so that local kids are more competitive on the state and national levels.

After several committee meetings and suggestions from school teachers and staff, Vanden Heuvel said, a good guide is the Next Generation Science Standards. He explained that those standards are already implemented by several states and were designed by the scientists that actually implement those skills.

Click here to read the full article in the Idaho Mountain Express (November 17, 2016)

U.S. Supreme Court Won’t Hear Religious Argument Against Science Standards

The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday (November 14) declined to hear the appeal of a group of Kansas parents and students who object on religious grounds to the state’s adoption of the Next Generation Science Standards.

The group alleged in a lawsuit against the Kansas state education department that the standards, developed by 26 states based on a framework published by the National Research Council, address religious questions by removing a “theistic” viewpoint and creating a “non-theistic worldview” in science instruction in the public schools.

The lawsuit by a group called Citizens for Objective Public Education said that in addressing questions such as “where do we come from?”, the Next Generation standards rely on an “orthodoxy called Methodological Naturalism or Scientific Materialism and a variety of other deceptive methods to lead impressionable children, beginning in kindergarten, to answer the questions with only materialistic/atheistic answers,” as the group said in its Supreme Court appeal.

Click here to read the full story in Education Week’s School Law Blog. (November 14, 2016)

Teaching to higher standards

Channahon (Illinois) Junior High School seventh-grade science teacher Kirk Lange is making the most of the new science standards, declaring that they give him even more opportunity to immerse his students into science.

While many see the new Next Generation Science Standards, or NGSS, as too complex or demanding, Lange sees them as a great opportunity.

Seventh grade focuses on biology, he said, which is the perfect venue to combine subject matter with projects, collaboration and technology, which is what the new K-12 standards are all about.

“I was looking to make a big change,” Lange said, “and with the new standards, it seemed like the best time to make a big shift. I took everything I was doing and revamped it from the ground up. I think this will show us what the students can really do with higher-order thinking. … I’m driving for a much deeper understanding.”

Click here to read the full article in The Herald-News (November 9, 2016)

Day in the Life: Teaching the next generation of scientists

Thomas ‘TJ’ McKenna didn’t ask to be called ‘The Science Guy,’ but it happened anyway.

McKenna, a graduate student at the University of Connecticut studying science education, is a staff scientist at the Connecticut Science Center. His resume includes a masters in entomology, running a widely-read science blog, being cited as a co-author in a study on squirrel behavior, hosting two weekly science shows and, most recently, moderating a question and answer session for the Mythbusters.

McKenna’s main focus is currently on the Next Generation Science Standards, a set of teaching standards that help teach students about topics in the field of STEM.

“The way we learn science in classrooms now is very different from what we need to compete on an international level,” McKenna said. “We need to shift the way science is done.”

One of the ways McKenna encourages STEM involvement is through his blog, Phenomena for NGSS. The site features various articles, videos and gifs of different questions and topics in the field of science, such as bicycle aerodynamics and deer migration. The point of these topics, McKenna said, for teachers to use them to get students to ask questions.

Click here to read the full story in The Daily Campus (UConn, November 8, 2016)

California Adopts Framework for Teaching Science

The state of California has become the first state in the nation to adopt a framework for teaching science that’s based on the Next Generation Science Standards.

The state Board of Education voted Thursday, Nov. 3 to adopt the Science Framework, which includes guidance for teaching science for kids in transitional kindergarten to 12th grade. Transitional kindergarten is a special program for kids who just miss the cutoff to start kindergarten due to birthdays between September 2 and December 2.

The state has been working on developing such a framework since it adopted the Next Generation Science Standards in 2013.

California’s Science Framework includes engineering for the first time along with environmental literacy and an expanded discussion of climate change. It also encourages teachers to serve more as facilitators and allow students to do more hands-on learning through experiments.

Click here to read the full article in Education Week (November 4, 2016)

Pencils Down: Experiments in Education

Quanta Magazine, an online magazine to enhance public understanding of research developments in mathematics and the physical and life sciences, is taking an in-depth look at changes in science and math education. In a four-part series, Pencils Down: Experiments in Education, reporters examine the new developments in education, including the Next Generation Science Standards, and the impact they are having on science education.

education_hinemizushima_2kCHAPTER 1: PLAN (October 5, 2016)
Meet the New Math, Unlike the Old Math
By Kevin Hartnett
The latest effort to overhaul math and science education offers a fundamental rethinking of the basic structure of knowledge. But will it be given time to work?



teachers_zmmc_2kCHAPTER 2: TEACH (October 11, 2016)
The Art of Teaching Math and Science
By Thomas Lin, Siobhan Roberts, Natalie Wolchover and Emily Singer
The impasse in math and science instruction runs deeper than test scores or the latest educational theory. What can we learn from the best teachers on the front lines?


helen_quinn_1920x1080CHAPTER 3: STUDY (October 18, 2016)
A Wormhole Between Physics and Education
By Thomas Lin
The theoretical particle physicist Helen Quinn has blazed a singular path from the early days of the Standard Model to the latest overhaul of science education in the United States.



shareCHAPTER 4: SHARE (October 20, 2016)
Do You Love or Hate Math and Science?
By Thomas Lin
Quanta Magazine invites readers to share about their early math and science learning experiences and to explore the interactive survey results.

Districts begin alignment to new science standards

SHERIDAN — The days of memorizing vocabulary out of a science book will soon be gone.

The Sheridan Press (Wyoming) reports that on Sept. 24, the Wyoming State Board of Education adopted new science standards for Wyoming schools. School districts will have until the 2020-2021 school year to adjust their science curriculum.

A complete overhaul of curriculum is no small task. So how will local districts make that transition?

Assistant Superintendent Mitch Craft said that on Oct. 12, during the district’s in-service day, Sheridan County School District 2’s secondary science teachers and administrators held a three-hour collaboration concerning ways to approach the new science standards.

Craft emphasized that in the future, there will be several meetings between teachers and administrators. These will be done primarily using the professional learning community format.

Yet, Craft said that wasn’t the first time teachers have taken a hard look at the new standards.

“Our teachers have honestly been examining it since word got out that there were going to be new standards,” Craft said. “So, they’ve been making that transition for several years.”

At the September SBE meeting, Wyoming Superintendent of Public Instruction Jillian Balow said that around half the school districts in the state have already shifted their curriculum to the new standards. Sheridan County School District 1 is one of those districts.

Click here to read the full story in the Sheridan Press (October 18, 2016)

WV science standardized tests may change again

The West Virginia Board of Education may vote Wednesday or Thursday to again change the grade levels in which public school students take end-of-year science standardized tests.

Unlike the federal requirement for states to annually give standardized tests in math and English language arts to grades three through eight and once in high school, federal law only requires annual science standardized testing in one of the elementary school grades, one of the middle grades and one of the high grades.

In the 2014-15 school year, the state school board approved a waiver of its own policy to reduce for that spring West Virginia’s requirement for science exams from grades three through 11 to just in grades four, six and 10.

In 2015-16, the board approved a policy change to make that science testing reduction permanent — alongside making permanent the 2014-15 waiver’s elimination of social studies standardized testing in all grades. The federal government doesn’t require any standardized testing in that subject.

Education Week reported that the American Institutes for Research “brought together psychometricians, science education experts, and state leaders for two days of discussion in Washington on how to turn the standards into state summative exams.” West Virginia was among the represented states, alongside California, Connecticut, Hawaii, New Hampshire, Oregon, Utah and Washington.

“Although states are trying to collaborate and work together, the tests are going to differ across states,” Jon Cohen, president of AIR assessment, told Education Week.

He said the tests would include commonalities, but Education Week reported test results “won’t likely be comparable across states.” The news outlet reported the tests will have few to zero multiple-choice questions, “many questions will use computer simulations and have students conduct virtual experiments” and most states will cover topics from several grades in a single test.

Click here to read the full story in the Charleston Gazette-Mail (October 8, 2016)