N.M. Again Alters Science Standards After Public Outcry

By Stephen Sawchuk — October 26, 2017 1 min read
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New Mexico will make still further changes to its science expectations for students, thanks to the outcry that greeted earlier drafts.

According to the Albuquerque Journal, the draft will now include all of the features of the Next Generation Science Standards, which are used in 18 states and the District of Columbia.

The state’s first draft included only the NGSS performance expectations—not its cross-cutting themes or the science and engineering practices meant to be woven throughout lessons—and made some other changes that drew much controversy in the state. Originally, for example, the standards softened language about humans’ contribution to climate change, deleted one reference to evolution, and added a number of references to the contributions of the energy industry in the state.

After receiving overwhelmingly negative feedback at an Oct. 16 hearing, the state moved to undo some of those revisions. But science teachers and other advocates in the state pressed it to also adopt the full NGSS.

State Secretary-Desginate Christopher Ruszkowski told the Albuquerque Journal that the debate had become “a distraction” from implementing the standards.

The newspaper also reported that the state will include six additional standards meant to show “New Mexico connections.” For example, it will ask students to “describe advantages and disadvantages associated with technologies related to local industries and energy production.”

The source of the original alterations remains unclear; many have suggested the state’s powerful energy lobby, among others. One source I interviewed earlier this month said it could be hard to trace the alterations, since most revisions to the drafts she worked on were done only in hard copy, and would therefore be difficult to find via an open-records law.

Photo: New Mexico Secretary-Designate Christopher Ruszkowski. Courtesy New Mexico Public Education Department

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A version of this news article first appeared in the Curriculum Matters blog.