Ed News: How One CA School District is Leading the Way on New Science Standards

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This week in education news, one California school district is leading the way on new science standards; a study looks to find the best tactics for flipped instruction; Virginia adopts computer science standards for K-12; new study suggests schools could help uncover the next generation of inventors; a new report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine on undergraduate STEM education; Taos, NM, students wowed Jimmy Fallon with their science invention; NSTA releases best 2018 STEM books; it’s not how long you spend in PD, it’s how much you grow; and narrowing the achievement gap in K12 is not enough.


How One California School District is Leading the Way on New Science Standards

As schools nationwide take on the most comprehensive overhaul of science standards in 20 years, a school district in a quiet suburb of Los Angeles has become a pace-setter.  Without relying on outside funding, or major grant money, Torrance Unified has trained more than 500 teachers and has unveiled the new standards to all 24,000 students in the district. By devoting thousands of hours to teacher training, the district has shown teachers from kindergarten through 12th grade how to explain scientific phenomenon in a new way to their students — by letting the students discover the answers on their own, instead of memorizing facts from a textbook. Read the story featured in Ed News.

Does Flipped Instruction Work? New Study Looks to Find the Best Tactics  

More and more teachers are “flipping” their instruction—but what does that really mean? And does it work? A University of Missouri team of researchers has received $450,000 from the National Science Foundation to study these questions over a three-year period. They’re going to be observing 40 Missouri algebra classrooms—20 that will be using some sort of flipped instructional tactic more than 50 percent of the time, and 20 that will be using the traditional classroom format. Read the blog featured in Education Week.

Virginia Adopts Computer Science Standards for K-12

The Virginia Board of Education voted last month to become the first state to adopt mandatory computer science standards for all students. The computer science Standards of Learning were unanimously approved after lengthy discussion on Nov. 16. They laid out the four key fundamentals that must be taught: computer literacy, educational technology, digital citizenship and information technology. Each of these concepts is interwoven into other content areas in most cases. Computer literacy means just that: making sure a student knows how to use computers and programs and can demonstrate that by creating a digital presentation. Read about it in this story in the Daily Press.

Can Schools Help Uncover ‘Lost Einsteins’ in Next Generation of Inventors?

At nearly 326,000, the number of new U.S. patents has more than doubled from 2005 to 2015. But in every year since 2008, the patents granted to foreign inventors have outpaced those of U.S. inventors, and a new study suggests the nation could be overlooking thousands of potential young inventors. Read the blog featured in this Education Week.

Monitoring Undergraduate STEM Education

Quality instruction goes a long way toward keeping students — especially underrepresented minorities and women — in the sciences, technology, math and engineering. But measuring educational quality isn’t easy. A new report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine, “Indicators for Monitoring Undergraduate STEM Education,” says that assessing quality and impact in STEM at the national level will require the collection of new data on changing student demographics, instructors’ use of evidence-based teaching approaches, student transfer patterns and more. Read the article featured in Inside Higher Ed.

Young Taos scientists take fireproof fabric invention nationwide

When The Tonight Show’s host, Jimmy Fallon, praises your product, you might have something there. Three Taos, NM, students wowed Fallon — and the nation — Nov. 29 when they showed off their invention called NanoForm, a breathable, antibacterial, fireproof fabric coating, on a segment of the NBC show. Taos High School students Daniel Córdova, Indigo Acosta and Cameron Gonzáles rolled out their newest version of the material several months ago and took it to the national eCYBERMISSION competition in Washington, D.C., over the summer. The trio were then invited by NBC to be featured guests on The Tonight Show with their invention, which has taken several turns in design. Read the article featured in the Santa Fe New Mexican.

STEM at Its Best

 I have found that science teachers often do not use the textbook they’ve been given. Many make up their own lessons. In recent years, the National Science Teachers Association has been looking for ways to integrate nonfiction literature into science courses. To this end they have created a new list of Best STEM Books. They recently released their second list amidst much excitement. Read more in an article featured in the Huffington Post.

It’s Not How Long You Spend in PD, It’s How Much You Grow

The research is clear: The “sit ‘n’ get” model of professional development doesn’t work. Yet the majority of states continue to base the requirements for maintaining a teaching license on clock hours or seat time. And very often that looks like teachers heading en masse to one-off conferences and seminars, disconnected from their everyday classroom work. But 14 states, including Georgia most recently, are now trying something different. They’re asking teachers to craft personalized plans for improving their instruction, and they’re measuring success with proof of teacher advancement. “How long” teachers spend in PD is no longer the central question; instead, it’s, “How much did they grow?” Read the article featured in Teacher Magazine.

Narrowing the Achievement Gap in K12 is Not Enough

Districts are increasingly tasked with providing options for at-risk and underserved student populations to address persistent achievement gaps. While nationwide gains in closing achievement gaps have been made, research shows that underserved student populations still achieve at lower rates than their peers in many areas. Read the article featured in District Administration Magazine.


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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