The state of Wyoming has approved new science standards.
The move comes following controversy regarding how those standards would address climate change. The U.S. Energy Information Administration reports that Wyoming leads the nation in coal production and is one of the top 10 states for natural gas production.
In the end, the state didn’t adopt the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) but enacted standards that were largely modeled after the NGSS.
And, despite the earlier questions about how the state would address climate change, for the most part Wyoming’s standards are identical when it comes to the subject.
However, there is one big difference. In the standard for high school students related to earth and human activity under the global climate change tab, the NGSS reads: “Though the magnitudes of human impacts are greater than they have ever been, so too are human abilities to model, predict, and manage current and future impacts.”
In Wyoming’s standards, the same section reads a little differently. There is no mention of human abilities to counter climate change. And, Wyoming’s standards call for consideration to be given to both the positives and negatives as students “use the results of a computational representation to illustrate the relationships among Earth systems and how those relationships are being modified due to human activity.”
The Wyoming standards also include some examples that are unique to the state as well as language on how the science benchmarks relate to content and performance standards in other subjects such as math and English/language arts.
Wyoming education leaders developed the state’s science standards after receiving a significant amount of input from the public. The state also allowed Wyoming Agriculture in the Classroom, an advocacy group for students developing an understanding of agriculture and natural resources through education, and the Petroleum Association of Wyoming, an industry trade association, to conduct preliminary reviews of the standards.
Schools will be required to implement these standards by the 2020-2021 school year.
A version of this news article first appeared in the Curriculum Matters blog.