This week in education news, North Dakota’s superintendent is requesting teachers to review new academic standards; California teachers find new science standards fun, but expensive; four New York students injured in a chemistry experiment gone wrong; several Wisconsin school districts are trying a new method of evaluating what students learn; Veteran astronaut Dr. Bernard Harris named new CEO of NMSI; new Gallup poll reveals that superintendents have a hard time finding quality teachers; Houston-area administrators are using physical activities to better engage students in STEM courses; and Ohio high school students may soon be allowed to replace the Algebra 2 graduation requirement with an advanced computer science course.
North Dakota’s superintendent is asking teachers statewide to review academic standards for science, health, early learning and the arts as the process for drafting new benchmarks gets underway. State Superintendent Kirsten Baesler is asking teachers who specialize in science, health, the arts or early learning to apply to serve on one of the four content committees that will draft standards. Read the article featured on WRAL.com.
With their emphasis on hands-on experiments, California’s new science standards have turned classrooms into noisy, messy laboratories. That’s been popular with students and teachers who say it’s a more effective way to learn science than studying textbooks and memorizing facts, but the cost of all those underwater robots and exploding chemicals has left some teachers wondering how they can successfully implement the standards with ever-restricting budgets. Read the article featured in Ed Source.
In Florida, some say global warming and evolution are a hoax and should not be taught in textbooks unopposed. Others say their local school’s textbooks shortchange Islam’s role in the world, while their opponents argue it’s the danger posed by Muslim terrorists that’s underexposed. Under a bill passed by the Florida Legislature this year, any district resident — regardless of whether they have a child in school — can now challenge material as pornographic, biased, inaccurate or a violation of state law and get a hearing before an outside mediator. Read the article featured in the Tampa Bay Times.
A chemistry experiment gone awry sent four tenth graders from a Catholic school in the Bronx to the hospital after they were singed by a flame. Sister Patricia Wolf, president of the school, said that an experienced chemistry teacher was showing students a procedure that involved alcohol and a metal when the flame got out of control. Read the article featured in The New York Times.
As our economy evolves, we must evolve with it, developing a workforce prepared to meet the demands of a new economy. Now is our chance to build a workforce ready to succeed over a lifetime, not just over the next three to five years. At the heart of the opportunities and risks we face in a new global economy is the increasing value of skills rooted in STEM. Indeed, 10 of the top 14 fastest-growing industries require STEM training. To keep up with the projected growth in demand for STEM jobs, America will need an additional 1 million more college graduates with STEM training by 2022 than we’re on track to produce. Read the article featured in The74million.org.
Several Wisconsin school districts are trying a new method of evaluating what students learn. It’s called “standards-based grading,” and it’s different than the typical A-F grading system people may be used to. Advocates believe the new approach will replace the old system. But, in order for the practice to catch on, it will take a shift in mindset from both parents and educators. Read the article featured on WUWM.com.
Veteran astronaut and STEM education advocate Dr. Bernard A. Harris, Jr. has been named the new chief executive officer of the National Math and Science Initiative. Dr. Harris is a founding member of the NMSI board and has served in that role for 10 years. He succeeds Matthew Randazzo, who recently was named president and CEO of The Dallas Foundation. Randazzo will assume this role in mid-2018 and will remain a NMSI board member. Read the press release posted on News9.com.
Concerns around finding highly-qualified teachers and principals plague today’s district superintendents, according to a new Gallup poll. Two-thirds of district superintendents in a new survey said the quantity of new teacher candidates is decreasing, and 43 percent said new principal candidates are decreasing. Read the article featured in eSchool News.
Despite modest gains in degree attainment in science, technology, engineering and math, women and minorities remain grossly underrepresented in the fields, according to a new report. Women are also less likely to enter STEM occupations after earning a STEM degree as are blacks, Hispanics and Native Americans, according to the report, which was prepared by the RAND corporation and commissioned by the American Petroleum Institute. Read the article featured in U.S. News & World Report.
Administrators from the Houston area discovered a more effective way of teaching terminal velocity and gravity—by keeping students afloat on 150-mph winds inside a vertical tunnel. The experience—hosted by the indoor skydiving facility iFLY—is one of many physical activities that schools use to better engage students in STEM courses. Read the article featured in District Administration.
High-quality STEM education not only has the potential to foster curiosity and creativity in students, it is critical for U.S. economic growth. But both words and plans are insufficient without follow-through. To best promote student success in STEM, we need both adequate funding and implementation of smart and equitable policies by all states and the District of Columbia. Read the article featured in Education Week.
Should students be allowed to take computer science instead of Algebra 2? Ohio schools could be heading in that direction. House Bill 170 would let high school students replace the Algebra 2 graduation requirement with an advanced computer science course. Students could also choose to take computer science in place of some other science courses. Read the article featured in Education Week.
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.