Why teachers embrace Kentucky science standards

Tricia Shelton, a science teacher and teacher leader with 20 years’ experience, writes about the widespread support for science standards in Kentucky. Tricia is a 2014 NSTA Distinguished Teaching Award winner for her contributions to and demonstrated excellence in science teaching.

“As a science educator for more than 20 years, I have seen countless new initiatives come and go. Some of these efforts, while well-intentioned, weren’t very effective in supporting student learning and igniting students’ innate curiosity.  But the Kentucky Academic Standards for Science (Science KAS) – which are based on the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) – have the potential to do both, and science teachers across our state have embraced them.”

Click here to read the article in the Kentucky Courier-Journal (Nov. 18, 2015)

Congratulations to CT and MI for Adopting the NGSS

Connecticut and Michigan are the most recent states to officially adopt the Next Generation Science Standards, joining AR, CA, DE, IA, IL, KS, KY, MD, NJ, NV, OR, RI, VT, WA and the District of Columbia. The Connecticut vote occured on Nov. 5 and the Michigan vote came on Nov. 10.

Click here to read a press release issued by Dianna Wentzell, Connecticut State Commissioner of Education.

Click here for background information on the Michigan standards.



Schools with Advanced Science Students Get Accelerated Pathways Advice

The NGSS Accelerated Pathways document released by Achieve, Inc., guides schools seeking to compress the timeframe in which science courses are taught. The intent is to serve high-achieving students seeking to tackle more advanced content earlier in their middle or high school careers.

“The “NGSS Accelerated Pathways” document doesn’t offer curriculum. It focuses on three exemplar course maps that outline how a school might reorganize NGSS performance expectations into fewer courses without omitting any.”

Thee resource also addresses how NGSS and Advanced Placement (AP) courses are conceptually similar.

Click here to read the article in T.H.E. Journal (Nov. 3, 2015)

How NGSS Transforms Science Class with Hands-on Learning

eSchool News recently published a piece by Colorado science teacher, Pat Dickerson, on the Next Generation Science Standards. The piece is reposted from the Graphite.org blog.

“Imagine 30 sixth-graders racing to your classroom every day, so excited about learning that they are willing to think critically and problem-solve for the next 49 minutes. This is my world every day. I’ve been teaching for more than 30 years, and this is the most excited I’ve ever seen students. What’s changed? Simply put: We integrated the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) into our curriculum.

My students and I are now so engaged in learning and actively participating in science that we often end up rushing to clean up at the bell. Parents tell me their dinnertime conversations are about science and what their kids are doing and learning. When we have our STEM Fair each year, parents are amazed by what they see and hear from the students. “Doing science” makes for a messy, noisy classroom –- but the students are engaged and thinking critically, guided by the NGSS.”

Click here to read the article in eSchool News (10/29/15)

STEM and the Next Generation Science Standards in Warren

In New Jersey, educators and policymakers agree about the need for an increased focus on STEM education. The state is among 14 others, including the District of Columbia, that have adopted the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). The state is planning to implement the new standards in grades 6-12 for the 2016-17 school year and for grades K-5 the following year.

In this article written by Mary Ann McGann from Warren Township Public Schools, in preparation for the new standards, the Warren Township School District continues to provide professional development opportunities in STEM and NGSS to its science educators.

Click here to read the article in Mycentraljersey.com. (10/29/15)

Opinion from Vermont: Science Standards Boost Learning

Jennifer Stainton, the Science Department chairwoman, integrated environmental science teacher, and chemistry teacher at Woodstock Union High School, in Woodstock, VT, published an opinion piece in the Burlington Free Press  hailing the adoption of the Next Generation Science Standards in Vermont as a way to boost science learning.

“When the Vermont State Board of Education adopted the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) in 2013, it delivered a clear message to every science teacher in Vermont: engage all students with the core, interconnected ideas of science by allowing them to practice the skills of scientists and engineers. Teachers across the state have embraced this message by taking steps to change their daily teaching practice so their students can meet the new standards.”

“Teachers also appreciate that the Vermont Agency of Education does not prescribe a one-size-fits-all implementation of these standards. Instead, each district and school has the ability to make decisions about the local changes needed to support an NGSS-rich science education and as a result, I’ve seen teachers developing new science lessons that engage students by asking them to embrace failure (a word normally scorned in school settings) as they design solutions to local problems.”

Click here to read the article in the Burlington Free Press (Oct 21, 2015)

Next Generation Science Standards in Action: New Teacher Videos

Liana Heiten from Ed Week highlights new videos on the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) released by the Teaching Channel in partnership with Achieve. The videos showcase classroom lessons aligned to the standards.

One video shows a high school science teacher from Boone County, Ky., who has her students build Rube Goldberg machines to demonstrate energy transfers. The teacher asks students to make connections between their creations and energy transfers within an ecosystem, as a way of bridging the physical and life sciences.

Click here to read the article

Click here to access the videos

Tennessee Reviews Science Standards

The Tennessee State Board of Education has launched a  website, https://apps.tn.gov/tcas/ to collect public feedback on Tennessee’s grade 3-12 science standards.

The science standards, developed by a committee of Tennessee science educators throughout last year, set grade-specific goals that exemplify what students are expected to know and be able to do by the end of a given grade or course.

Click here to read a story on WGNS RAdio website (September 18, 2015)


Alabama’s Science Standards Get A Makeover

According to National Public Radio, the Alabama Board of Education voted unanimously on Sept. 10 to replace old K-12 science standards for the first time in a decade.

Ryan Reardon, a teacher at Jefferson County International Baccalaureate, and other science educators say Alabama’s old standards were dated and thin on evolution. The new standards call it “established scientific knowledge.”

The article explains that there has been little pushback during the development of the standards and that there are a few obvious reasons why. They have the official backing of the Alabama Science Teachers Association. Also, at public hearings, the state required comments to be about specific standards. Critics couldn’t simply oppose the whole effort on principle.

One more possible reason for the lack of controversy: While the new standards have a little more on climate change, they still don’t say humans are a cause.

Perhaps the biggest change in the new standards is the “doing of science” itself. There’s more focus on hands-on exploration, unifying concepts like cause and effect or structure and function, and data analysis.

Click here to read the full article from National Public Radio (September 10, 2015)

Stephen Pruitt Likely to be Kentucky’s Commissioner of Education

On Friday, Sept. 4, that the Kentucky Board of Education announced that Stephen Pruitt, senior vice president at Achieve Inc., will likely be the state’s next commissioner of education, pending the outcome of a background check, a vote by the board and successful contract negotiations.

“Dr. Pruitt is very excited for the opportunity and has indicated to the board that, if offered the job, he would accept,” Kentucky Board of Education Chair Roger Marcum said. “He brings a wealth of educational experience from the classroom, the state and the national levels. He is personable and a good communicator. The board feels very fortunate to have someone of his caliber and we are confident that Dr. Pruitt will continue to strengthen the tradition of excellence in Kentucky public education.”

Click here to read the press release.

Click here to read an article in the Kentucky Courier-Journal (Sept 4, 2015)