The state board voted unanimously June 11 to adopt the K-8 portion of the science standards with some Arkansas-specific additions and clarifications. The state is expected to adopt the high school standards next year as well, according to Michele Snyder, a science specialist at the Arkansas education department.
Prior to the adoption, the education department conducted several surveys of teachers and administrators and reached out for public comments on the draft. “Every time, over 80 percent of the field was very accepting of the standards, the process, and using the Next Generation Science Standards for the Arkansas science standards,” said Snyder.
While the standards’ wording on climate change and evolution have caused some controversy in other states, Snyder said that hasn’t really been the case in Arkansas. “We really had very little [push]back on climate change and evolution issues,” she said. “That just really never came up.”
Arkansas is among the top 20 states for crude oil production. Some have claimed that energy-rich states may see more opposition to the standards, but in truth many major oil companies have come out in support of them.
Citizens for Objective Public Education, a nonprofit group that questions manmade climate change and advocates for a “religiously neutral” explanation of the origin of life on earth, was critical of the Arkansas draft in public comments, Snyder noted. The group has spoken out against the standards in other states as well.
While Arkansas did not change any of the performance expectations in the Next Generation Science Standards, it did add some examples and clarifications. For instance, the red text in the 3rd grade standards below shows the clarifications—and the “AR” label indicates they are specific to Arkansas’ environment.
Both the National Science Teachers Association and the Arkansas education department have said Arkansas is considered an adoption state because it maintained the original performance expectations.
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A version of this news article first appeared in the Curriculum Matters blog.