This week in education news, Achieve releases a series of parent guides that explain how science instruction is changing and why; California administers pilot test for new science standards; science funding spared under congressional budget deal; Florida bills would give citizens the ability to question teaching materials used in schools; teachers receive help for creating lessons with drones; and Nebraska unveils new draft science standards.
So far, there’s been little talk about how parents have reacted to the Next Generation Science Standards. But states are preparing to give students tests aligned to the NGSS—next spring, in many places. And as testing pressure mounts, so might questions from parents about the new ways their students are being taught. Achieve, the group that led the development of the science standards, is working to head off misconceptions about the standards. The group recently released a series of parent guides that explain how science instruction is changing and why. Click here to read the article featured in Education Week.
The pilot test for California’s new science standards is underway at schools across the state, despite a long-brewing dispute with the federal government over whether students should be tested on the old or new standards. California is one of 19 states to adopt the new standards, and among the first to administer a pilot test. In 2016, the state asked for a federal waiver to stop giving the older, pencil-and-paper science standardized test, which was based on standards adopted in 1998, in favor of the new test. Click here to read the article featured in EdSource.
The lights will stay on in the federal government, and also in the countless laboratories and universities that depend on federal funding for scientific and medical research. That’s one upshot of the bipartisan budget deal congressional negotiators reached Sunday, April 30. The bill, clocking in at more than 1,600 pages, is likely to pass both houses of Congress and be signed into law by President Trump this week. It covers funding through September. Click here to read the article featured in the Washington Post.
The Every Student Succeeds Act may be less than two years old, but its funding provisions are already getting a makeover, at least temporarily, in a spending bill expected to be approved in Congress. The bill would make a really important change to the Student Support and Academic Enrichment Grants, or Title IV of the law (aka the “big giant block grant”). Click here to read the article featured in Education Week.
The forensic biotechnology pathway at James C. Enochs High School in Modesto City Schools, California, incorporates the science behind the popular CSI TV show to excite students about a career in the science behind criminal investigations. Nearly 350 students participate in the four-year program that combines fictional and real-world cases with hands-on research. Click here to read the article featured in District Administration.
Evolution and creationism taught side-by-side. Climate change presented as a controversial hypothesis. If these proposed bills in Florida pass before the end the legislative session next month, the fate of science education in some school districts would be threatened. Two new bills—one passed in the house, and one making its way through the senate—give anyone, not just parents, the ability to question teaching materials in a school district and receive a public hearing with an “unbiased and qualified hearing officer.” Click here to read the article featured in Motherboard.
Drones have been drifting into K-12 classroom lesson for years. Now teachers are receiving more specific guidance than ever before on how to use the aerial devices in ways that will bring a payoff for students. The guidance is coming from organizations like the International Society for Technology in Education, which recently published advice for educators on the subject, and the National Science Teachers Association, which at its conferences has offered educators guidance on how to use drones in classes. Click here to read the article featured in Education Week.
Netflix’s new talk show, “Bill Nye Saves the World,” debuted the night before people around the world joined together to demonstrate and March for Science. Many have lauded the timing and relevance of the show, featuring the famous “Science Guy” as its host, because it aims to myth-bust and debunk anti-scientific claims in an alternative-fact era. But are more facts really the kryptonite that will rein in what some suggest is a rapidly spreading “anti-science” sentiment in the U.S.? Click here to read the article featured in the Huffington Post.
Researchers from Michigan State University this week presented the findings of a study that indicated half of early career teachers leave their schools by their fifth year, and one in four leave the profession altogether. Part of this can be attributed to a perceived lack of support by their principals, but another part is due to a lack of support and personal development that encourages persistence. Having teacher mentors and a supportive principal are the two most critical influences on how a teacher experiences the profession in the first five years, and an emphasis on interpersonal learning and relationships is key to any teacher retention conversation, said American Institutes for Research Center on Great Teachers and Leaders researcher Catherine Jacques at a Wednesday Capitol Hill event detailing the findings of a new report on a teacher learning study. But it is important that any professional development efforts allow opportunities for teachers to self-select or opt-in to courses that are led by other teachers and job-embedded, focusing on collaboration. Click here to read the article featured in Education DIVE.
New draft science standards unveiled Thursday call upon students to think and act like scientists, gathering data, analyzing it and communicating their results. The draft standards list what officials believe students should know and be able to do from kindergarten to high school. The Big Bang theory, climate change, evolution and genetically modified organisms are among the topics addressed. On these weighty topics, the standards push students to draw their own conclusions after analyzing data. Click here to read the article featured in the Omaha World-Herald.
Stay tuned for next week’s top education news stories.
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