Encouraging the Scientists of Tomorrow

In an opinion piece in the Santa Barbara publication, Noozhawk, Santa Barbara Superintendent of Schools Bill Cirone explores the states new science education standards. 

Having a strong scientific background enables students to make informed decisions about issues that affect their lives, and helps prepare them for a future that, in many ways, is unpredictable.

Recognizing the critical role science plays in a student’s academic and intellectual development, California recently adopted the Next Generation Science Standards. This adoption marks the first science-standards update since 1998.

While the old standards heavily emphasized knowing scientific facts and theories, the new standards address all three dimensions of science: content, concepts and practice.

That intellectual growth is valuable not only for those students who go on to become scientists or engineers, but also for the great majority of students who do not follow these professional paths.

The new standards are great developments in science education. They capture the wonder, curiosity and excitement most students bring naturally to science. By engaging students in these concepts and practices, teachers help them develop the skills to think like scientists and engineers.

Click here to read the full article in Noozhawk (September 21, 2016)


Montana adopts new science standards

The Montana Board of Public Education adopted new science standards for public school students Friday at a meeting in Bozeman.

The standards have benchmarks for what students are supposed to learn at certain grade levels. They don’t dictate how teachers get students there, as local districts have control over their curriculum.

The new guidelines resemble the Next Generation Science Standards, which were developed by a 26-state group in 2013 and are considered by many to be more rigorous than most previously instituted standards.

Click here to read the full story in the Billings Gazette (September 16, 2016)

St. Vincent de Paul School embraces new science standards

The Catholic Diocese of Salt Lake City implemented the Next Generation Science Standards in all Utah Catholic Schools this year. These new standards explore content at a deeper level, provide more hands-on science experiments, and include practices scientists use in the field.

Click here to read the full story in Intermountain Catholic (September 2, 2016)

Here’s What We Know About the Next Generation Science Standards Tests

ngss imageEducation Week’s Liana Heitin reports that many states plan to start testing students on Next Generation Science Standards in the spring of 2018.

She writes that last week, the American Institutes for Research, a research and evaluation nonprofit that is contracting with some states to design and implement NGSS tests, brought together psychometricians, science education experts, and state leaders for two days on how to turn the standards into state summative exams. The states represented included California, Connecticut, Hawaii, New Hampshire, Oregon, Utah, Washington, and West Virginia. (New Hampshire and Utah didn’t officially adopt the NGSS, but New Hampshire is considering adoption and Utah adopted standards based on the NGSS framework for grades 6-8.)

The meetings were closed to the press, but she spoke with Jon Cohen, president of AIR assessment, and Gary Phillips, AIR’s senior vice president and an institute fellow about some of what the attendees decided at the gathering.

In a nutshell, while the tests will most likely differ from state to state, there will be much in common.

Click here to read the full article in Education Week (August 31, 2016)

After nearly two decades, Lousiana state science standards under review

A state panel Wednesday began reviewing science standards used in public schools, which have not been changed since 1997 and are the third oldest in the nation.

The update, which was ordered by Louisiana’s top school board, is overseen by a 39-member Standards Committee, mostly educators.

Under that panel are two work groups – 35 and 28 members – that will hammer out new benchmarks for students from kindergarten through eighth grade and high school respectively.

The first draft of the changes is due Nov. 7.

A final vote on the plan is set for Feb. 13 in New Orleans.

Click here to read the full story in The Advocate (August 31, 2016)

University of Wyoming Is Training School Districts How To Teach Science Differently

The University of Wyoming has been working with a number of school districts across the state in an effort to change the way science is being taught in K-12 schools. Just this week ACT test scores show that Wyoming students still have a ways to go in being prepared to take college level science. With the roll out of the Next Generation Science Standards, UW has been working with districts to find new ways of teaching to those standards.

Pete Ellsworth is the former coordinator of UW’s Science and Math teaching center and Ana Houseal is UW’s science outreach educator. She says early results show that within the districts that are doing things differently…scores are improving.

Click here to listen to the full story on Wyoming Public Radio (August 26, 2016)

New standards teach Montana students to work like scientists

Guest Opinion by Linda Rost (Billings Gazette)

Montana is adopting new science standards. Our new science standards, for which I served as one of the writers, are currently open for public comment and review.

The Next Generation Science Standards were written in 2013 by teams of teachers and scientists from 26 lead states, including Montana. The main focus of NGSS is for students to actively do science and engineering, the way scientists and engineers do, rather than passively learning about it.

I am the biology, chemistry and science research teacher at Baker High School, with nine years of experience. I have been implementing parts of the standards that are complementary to our current standards for the past three years, and have seen remarkable improvements in student achievement, depth of learning and growth. The lessons I have designed are deeper, exciting, and most importantly, students are the scientists and engineers.

Click here to read the full story in the Billings Gazette (August 27, 2016)

New Science Assessments in Delaware

Delaware will lead the nation in changing the way students are assessed in science.

Delaware adopted the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) as the state’s science content standards in October 2013.

As the state eyes a new science assessment, educators are using this as an opportunity to revamp how the state measures students’ science mastery.

According to WGMD News Radio, the tests will go beyond multiple choice and short answer assessments to include hybrid models where students manipulate materials and data offline then provide responses on a computerized platform.

“Educators in the field have led the call for this change and innovation,” Secretary of Education Steve Godowsky said. “The leadership of the Science Coalition – which unifies educators, district and charter leaders, and representatives from the higher education and business communities – has been key to the development of the state’s plan.”

Delaware envisions a comprehensive science assessment system in grades 3 to 10, consisting of three distinct types of assessment. Under this system, throughout the academic year students in grades 3 to 10 will take teacher-developed quizzes that will provide educators and students information on learning in real time. These will be teacher-developed with the intention of becoming part of an open access item bank that teachers can use at their discretion.

Students will also take tests shortly after the completion of each instructional unit. Each end-of-unit test is meant to provide information on student learning of the NGSS content in each unit for the purposes of instruction (e.g., determining if additional instruction on previously instructed topics is needed) and evaluation (e.g., informing curriculum adoption, adaptation, and modification) at classroom, school, district and state levels.

Finally, students in grades 5, 8, and 10 (biology) will also complete a performance task meant to capture students’ learning of the content instructed during the entire year in greater depth than on the end-of-unit tests. This assessment is meant to capture the ways that students integrate, transfer and apply science knowledge and skills learned during the year.

Click here to read the full story from WGMD News Radio (August 25, 2016)

Click here to read a press release from Delaware Department of Education.

Changes in La Jolla Schools Focus on Science

La Jolla Elementary, Bird Rock Elementary, Torrey Pines Elementary, Muirlands Middle and La Jolla High schools are bringing something novel to their campuses this year, including new faculty and staff, building improvements and/or the roll out of Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS).

As part of a national shift in science education, the Next Generation Science Standards are being rolled out over the next few years to change America’s public schools’ science curriculum. Using “strands” of different science emphases, NGSS are aimed at giving all students a science education that prepares them for college and career. Starting in 2016, K-5 schools will integrate the Earth Sciences strand, followed by the Physical Sciences strand in 2017 and Life Sciences strand in 2018. La Jolla’s schools are following suit.

Click here to read the full story in LaJolla Light (August 17, 2016)

NGSS Begins Releasing Sample Science Standard Bundles

The organization behind the Next Generation Science Standards has begun releasing sample “bundles” of standards to help people move away from thinking that the standards are supposed to be taught as a checklist. The bundles are intended to help teachers and curriculum developers understand how they might implement the science standards or student “performance expectations” in ways that can help learners see the connections between concepts and thereby optimize class time.

Click here to read the full story in T.H.E. Journal (August 9, 2016)