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)

Wisconsin Seeking Public Input on Science Standards

According to the Milwaukee Courier, the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction is seeking public input to start the review process for academic standards in information and technology literacy, music, and science.

The current science standards are the “Wisconsin Model Academic Standards for Science,” adopted in 1998. Most Wisconsin school districts have adopted or are using the Next Generation Science Standards, which were finalized in April 2013, to provide updated and relevant teaching and learning goals in science classrooms.

Comments about the standards or standards review process can be made online through the science standards public survey at, surveymonkey.com/r/WIscience2017, or through e-mail to sciencestandards@dpi.wi.gov.

Click here to read the full story in the Milwaukee Courier (February 18, 2017)

What I Know Now: Anchoring Phenomena in NGSS

In a blog post for the Teaching Channel NGSS@NSTA curator Kathy Renfrew writes about anchoring phenomena.

Phenomena can be the special ingredient that brings both intrigue and relevance to an otherwise ordinary lesson. It’s no surprise anchoring phenomena has become a part of the conversation whenever educators discuss NGSS science instruction. This is exciting because anchoring phenomena and driving questions can be the key to student engagement.

When I was first introduced to the importance of anchoring phenomena in NGSS instruction, I remember Googling “NGSS anchoring phenomena” and getting two, maybe three results —  and even they weren’t really what I needed. Today, the same search returns more than 2000 results. In a very short time, knowledge and resources have increased at a breakneck pace. Today, I know I can find the resources I need to help me anchor phenomena to the standards with relative ease. I’d like to share some of my favorite results from my search with you.

Click here to read the full story on the Teaching Channel (February 17, 2017)

 

California renews push to promote environmental literacy in schools

According to Ed Source environmental education in California got another big push last November when the State Board of Education approved integrating five key environmental principles into the new science frameworks last November. The frameworks provide a blueprint for introducing the Next Generation Science Standards, which the state adopted in 2013, and are gradually being introduced in schools across the state.

The standards represent a comprehensive approach to teaching K-12 science focused on hands-on experiments, critical thinking, and multidisciplinary concepts and patterns.

The State Board also voted last year to include environmental principles in the framework for the history-social science curriculum, which means students would learn about topics such as how humans have attempted to shape their environment throughout history, from Paleolithic times to the present, or how a healthy environment is crucial for human survival.

Thus, as schools move forward with implementation of the standards, educators are hoping that a range of environmental topics related to the environment will be routinely taught in science as well as history and social studies classes, and will cover everything from habitats to water systems and the impact of deforestation.

Click here to read the full story in Ed Source (February 12, 2017)