A draft of new K-12 common science standards is out and ready for review. These standards follow on the heels of "Common Core" math and English language arts standards that 46 states have already adopted. Like the Common Core standards, these "Next Generation Science Standards" are emerging from a collaboration among states. If you want to offer input into the draft science standards, you have until June 1 to do so. Public input is a critical part of this process.
The draft became public on Friday, so few people have had a lot of time to dig in. Still, many have high hopes that the new standards could become game-changers for science education in this country. A recent review of current state science standards by the Fordham Institute found that most were "mediocre to awful," to quote Kathleen Porter-McGee, who oversaw the review. (Erik Robelen at Education Week includes this quotation in his terrific piece on the draft standards.)
The new standards aim to improve matters by focusing on fewer topics in greater depth. Critics of science education in the US claim that most science standards are "a mile wide and an inch deep" and stress breadth over understanding. The new standards also aim to help students grasp the practice of science rather than simply cataloging the facts.
A few other points to note.... The standards include engineering practices, which should please those who worry about our young people's general ignorance of what engineers do. They also make connections to Common Core standards in English and math, which clears the way for stronger interdisciplinary connections in the classroom.
All this sounds very promising, but we will learn more as people have more time to review the draft. Educators, scientists and business leaders in 26 states have already put their stamp on this set of standards. But there is still time for you to make your mark.