Thomas R. O'Donnell

A brief update: Next Generation Science Standards

In Uncategorized on June 14, 2015 at 5:45 pm
"Dr. Doom" menaces the world, from Science Comics, April 1939, via the Digital Comics Museum.

From Science Comics, April 1939, via the Digital Comics Museum. Perhaps conservatives view the Iowa Department of Education this way. They would be wrong.

Here’s a quick update on Iowa’s possible adoption of the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS).

You may recall that a task force of educators began considering the standards in October as part of a regular review of Iowa classroom standards. After weighing the benefits of several sets of standards, the task force said the NGSS (which were developed by a coalition of states and education organizations) were the best choice to adapt for Iowa.

Since then, the group has been busy writing its report to the State Board of Education. On Friday, the board heard a brief report on the task force’s status. Your faithful correspondent was there.

DoE consultant Rita Martens told the board, meeting at Des Moines Area Community College’s Ankeny campus, that the report is nearly ready.

The hang-up: The task force voted to recommend the state adopts specific grade-level standards for middle school students to meet. The NGSS is laid out so standards are spread through the middle school years. The task force has been considering which standards to assign to sixth, seventh and eighth grades.

The task force “built a very solid rationale” for its recommendations, Martens said, and “done due diligence.” It will meet again on June 24 to finish the details and give every member a last chance to comment.

Board member William “Mike” May of Spirit Lake asked if the task force had received any feedback from the national NGSS organization about the state’s plans to assign standards to middle school grades. Martens said the national group doesn’t have a preference for whether to have general or grade-specific middle school standards, and left it up to the states.

Iowa teachers, however, have been adamant about having grade-specific standards, she said.

The Board of Education should receive the report and decide on adoption this summer or fall. Expect a battle then from conservatives opposed to national standards and especially the NGSS’s approach to human-caused climate change and evolution.

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