Friday, February 3, 2012

Science Standards

I'm working on a very ambitious K-2nd science curriculum and so we are waiting with baited breath for the latest release of the new standards from Achieve, scheduled for this year some time. In the meantime, we try to predict what they will be by studying the tea leaves and history. I just found a great write-up of the science standards history on the McRel website, I'll quote a bit here:

In science, three efforts have contributed significantly to the development of standards. The National Research Council (NRC) published the National Science Education Standards in December 1996. Material related directly to content standards fills over one-third of the work's 262 pages, while additional chapters address standards for science teaching and professional development, as well as assessment, program, and system standards. The science content standards are written for three grade levels: K-4, 5-8, and 9-12. At each grade level, seven general science topics are addressed. Standards related to these topics become increasingly comprehensive at each grade level.

The second effort within the field of science comes from the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). Working from the foundation they helped build in Science for All Americans (1992), AAAS's Project 2061 provides over 60 "literacy goals" in science as well as mathematics, technology, and the social sciences. These goals are well articulated across levels K-2, 3-5, 6-8, and 9-12. This effort, published as Benchmarks for Science Literacy (1993), includes a useful discussion and presentation of the research base available to those who worked on the project.

In addition to these efforts, the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) has published the Scope, Sequence and Coordination of National Science Education Content Standards (Aldridge, 1995) as an addendum to The Content Core: A Guide for Curriculum Designers (Pearsall, 1993). This supplement is designed to make the Core more consistent with the recently published NRC standards. NSTA has also released A High School Framework for National Science Education Standards (Aldridge, 1995), developed under a grant from the National Science Foundation. Like the addendum to the Core, this framework builds directly from the November 1994 draft of the NRC science standards. Essential generalizations in physics, chemistry, biology, Earth and space sciences, and other areas organize the framework. Each generalization is described in some detail with a list of the relevant concepts, empirical laws, and theories or models that students will need in order to acquire a solid grounding in the topic. These subsections are presented in grade sequence (9, 10-12) and include a recommended learning sequence. Other useful sources of information come from NAEP, including their Science Objectives: 1990 Assessment, Science Assessment and Exercise Specifications for the 1994 NAEP and Science Framework for the 1996 National Assessment of Educational Progress (since republished as the Science Framework for the 1996-2000 National Assessment of Educational Progress).