Twenty States Named to Help Craft New Science Standards

By Nora Fleming — September 20, 2011 3 min read
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A cadre of 20 states will lead the development of a new set of common standards in science, according to an announcement today from Achieve, a Washington-based nonprofit managing the effort.

Participating states span the country, from California and Arizona to Michigan and Maryland. They will help craft what have been dubbed the Next Generation Science Standards based on a framework developedby a panel of the National Research Council earlier this summer.

The new standards are expected to be completed before the end of 2012.

“We want to develop science standards for today’s students and tomorrow’s workforce, science standards that really tell a good story over the time a student is in school,” said Stephen L. Pruitt, Achieve’s vice president of content, research, and development and lead on the project. “Historically, science has been thought of as somewhat elitist, but we hope to develop standards that build a coherent structure over grades and disciplines for all students.”

The NRC’s framework for the new standards is built around three major dimensions: scientific and engineering practices; cross-cutting concepts that unify the study of science and engineering; and core ideas in four disciplinary areas—physical sciences, life sciences, earth and space sciences, and engineering, technology, and the applications of science.

Both the framework and new standards development have been supported with funding from the Carnegie Corporation of New York.

The states will also work directly with a team of 41 writers who include science teachers at the elementary and secondary level, specialists on state standards, academics, and others. They include:

  • Zoe Evans, a middle school science teacher in Georgia;
  • Andy Jackson, a district science coordinator and high school teacher in Virginia;
  • Joe Krajcik, a professor of science education at the University of Michigan;
  • Emily Miller, a bilingual resource teacher in Wisconsin; and
  • Brett Moulding, the director of the Utah Partnership for Effective Science Teaching and Learning; and
  • Robin Willner, the vice president for global community initiatives at IBM.

Additional states playing a lead role in the standards include: Georgia, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Tennessee, Vermont, Washington, and West Virginia.

This past summer, Achieve reported only six to eight states would serve as lead states in the process, but received responses from 20 states when the invitation to apply to participate was extended, and decided to include them all, Pruitt said.

“The more the merrier,” said Pruitt of the large number of states taking part. He said Achieve is happy with both the list of participating states and the writing team, which together bring both geographic and discipline diversity.

“States are realizing that to provide a quality education, you need to focus on science,” said Francis Eberle, the executive director of the National Science Teachers Association, based in Arlington, Va., which has assisted Achieve in the process.

“What’s exciting about this effort is that these will be common science standards that will provide all students access to the same information,” Eberle said. “More broadly we hope that these standards will inspire and prepare a more literate citizenry.”

CORRECTION: The original version of this post incorrectly indicated that the chairs of the NRC panel that developed the science framework would also chair the standards-writing project. Stephen Pruitt from Achieve is the chairman of the project. Also, the NRC panel had only chair, Helen Quinn, a professor emeritus of physics at the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center at Stanford University.

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