Ed News: Idaho Releases Revamped Science Standards Proposal

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This week in education news, Idaho releases revamped science standards proposal; two University of Florida professors explain how the taunting of minority students in a robotics competition are part of a cultural idea that minority students don’t belong in STEM classes; new 3-minute videos highlight new research in STEM education; next-generation science tests slowly take shape; and according to the Center on Education Policy, students spend an average of 10 days out of the school year taking district-mandated tests and nine days taking state-required tests.

Idaho Releases Revamped Science Standards Proposal

A state committee has made another attempt to break a deadlock over addressing climate change in Idaho classrooms. But the last word in this controversy belongs to Idaho lawmakers — who removed references to climate change from state science standards earlier this year. The State Department of Education unveiled five new climate change standards with wording designed to address lawmakers’ concerns. Click here to read the article featured in Idaho Ed News.

Keeping Up With STEM In The Classroom

Job readiness and transferable skills are things you don’t typically associate with elementary students. Yet to pursue careers as mechanical engineers or computer scientists as adults, children need to develop their interests in and aptitudes for such fields at an early age. The pressure that schools and teachers face to increase STEM education is real. Starting in 2019, elementary and secondary teachers in Washington state will have to document professional development in STEM in order to renew their teaching certificates. Click here to read the article featured in The Seattle Times.

Minority Students Face Cultural Barriers To STEM Education

Two University of Florida professors, no strangers to the entry barriers for minority students in science, technology, engineering and math fields, explain how the taunting of minority students in a robotics competition are part of a cultural idea that minority students don’t belong in STEM classes. Click here to read the article featured in the Gainesville Sun.

Quick-Hit Videos Highlight New Research In STEM Education

Researchers working on federally funded STEM education projects have created three-minute videos about their efforts, which are now being featured as part of a weeklong virtual event. More than 170 video presentations were submitted for the 2017 NSF STEM for All Video Showcase. The research projects described, most of which are being funded by the National Science Foundation, cover a wide range of topics in science, technology, engineering, and math education, such as using virtual reality to give students field experiences and pairing undergraduates with K-12 students to serve as STEM mentors. Click here to read the article featured in Education Week.

What’s More Important: Credentials or Experience?

Not all teachers are created equally and neither are the programs that made them that way. And so it’s true for administrative licenses and programs as well. Although I’m certain there are important lessons to be learned in the graduate classroom for an administrative license and some may take much away from it, I’m willing to argue that on-the-job training and experience are equally as valuable, if not more. Click here to read the article featured in Education Week.

The Little-Known Statistician Who Taught Us To Measure Teachers

Students enroll in a teacher’s classroom. Nine months later, they take a test. How much did the first event, the teaching, cause the second event, the test scores? Students have vastly different abilities and backgrounds. A great teacher could see lower test scores after being assigned unusually hard-to-teach kids. A mediocre teacher could see higher scores after getting a class of geniuses. Thirty-five years ago, a statistician, William S. Sanders, offered an answer to that puzzle. It relied, unexpectedly, on statistical methods that were developed to understand animal breeding patterns. Click here to read the article featured in The New York Times.

Next-Generation Science Tests Slowly Take Shape

Around the country, science instruction is changing—students are being asked to make models, analyze data, construct arguments, and design solutions in ways that far exceed schools’ previous goals. That means science testing, of course, needs to change as well. Yet considering federal requirements around science testing, and states’ logistical, technical, and financial limitations, putting a new, performance-heavy state science test in place is no easy task. Click here to read the article featured in Education Week.

Why Science Denial Isn’t Necessarily Ideological

Science is taking it from all sides these days. On the right are those who question the reality of climate change and doubt the theory of evolution. On the left are those who inveigh against vaccines and fear genetically modified foods. Those who do accept the authority of science watch helplessly as funding for research is threatened, all the while bemoaning the warping influence of political ideology on the beliefs of their compatriots. Into this sorry state of affairs arrive two new books, each of which draws on a different body of research to make the same surprising claim: that the misunderstanding and denial of science is not driven exclusively or even primarily by ideology. Rather, scientific ignorance stems from certain built-in features of the human mind — all of our minds. Click here to read the article featured in the Washington Post.

Assessment: Getting A Read On A Field In Flux

Students spend an average of 10 days out of the school year taking district-mandated tests and nine days taking state-required tests, according to the Center on Education Policy. Over 12 years of schooling, that adds up to nearly four months of a young person’s life. The estimate provides a starting point for wrapping one’s mind around the amount of testing students actually do in schools. While most of the teachers who responded to the center survey thought states and districts should cut back on the time students spend taking mandated tests, only a fraction of them wanted to dump those tests altogether. Click here to read the article featured in Education Week.

How Science Standards Went Mainstream Without Common Core’s Drama

Chad Colby, the vice president of strategic communications and outreach for Achieve, spoke with InsideSources about the processes that led to the creation of the NGSS, and how the groups involved were able to sidestep much of the political controversy that engulfed the Common Core. Colby, a former official at the U.S. Department of Education, is a proponent of the NGSS, which he said takes a more holistic view of the subject and encourages active exploration rather than passive memorization. Though the NGSS were created separately from Common Core, the standards are designed to link up together—should educators decide to take a cross-disciplinary approach to curricular development. Click here to read the article featured in InsideSources.

Stay tuned for next week’s top education news stories.

The Communication, Legislative & Public Affairs (CLPA) team strives to keep NSTA members, teachers, science education leaders, and the general public informed about NSTA programs, products, and services and key science education issues and legislation. In the association’s role as the national voice for science education, its CLPA team actively promotes NSTA’s positions on science education issues and communicates key NSTA messages to essential audiences.

The mission of NSTA is to promote excellence and innovation in science teaching and learning for all.


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