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California Considers New Science Education Standards

Aired 7/8/13 on KPBS News.

California could be the sixth state to adopt new voluntary, national guidelines for teaching science.

This week, California could become the sixth state in the country to adopt new national guidelines for science education.

While California students today might learn about water molecules in chemistry class one year and erosion in earth science another year, under the Next Generation Science Standards, they might have a unit about water systems that starts at that molecular level and works up to ecosystems.

That’s how Nancy Taylor, executive director of San Diego Science Alliance, describes the shift the new standards would set in motion for California. She was part of the group that reviewed the standards for the state and made recommendations on how to tailor them for California classrooms.

She said the multidisciplinary approach the standards encourage is in line with how scientific research is done today.

“We see some other trends right here in San Diego," she said, "where there is a cross disciplinary approach in developing medical and health technologies, sports technology, biotech and communications.”

Understanding methods and skills that are used across scientific disciplines is another focus of the guidelines, which outline core scientific ideas — including human impacts on climate and the principals of evolution — that students are supposed to learn about with increasing complexity as they progress from elementary to high school.

Many education nonprofits and business groups have endorsed the new standards but some argue California's current science standards, which focus more on specific things students should know at each grade level, are stronger than the new guidelines.

The state’s board of education will consider adopting the voluntary national standards at its meeting Wednesday. Members of the board, however, could wait until November to make a final decision. The guidelines would roll out in classrooms in 2015.

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Avatar for user 'CaliforniaDefender'

CaliforniaDefender | July 9, 2013 at 12:16 p.m. ― 3 years, 8 months ago

Is this part of the Common Core Standards Initiative pushed by the federal government?

It is quite troubling to see states ceding education authority to Washington DC. Especially California which has higher education standards than any other state, or at least used to.

This will just be another nail in the public school coffin.

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Avatar for user 'benz72'

benz72 | July 9, 2013 at 1:22 p.m. ― 3 years, 8 months ago

As long as the new standards are higher than the old ones, I don't care where they are generated.

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Avatar for user 'Hila'

Hila | July 9, 2013 at 2:25 p.m. ― 3 years, 8 months ago

These science standards were developed through cooperation among the states. They are not at all top down from the Federal government. California wisely chose to participate. These standards are well thought out and represent a positive step forward.

The next step will be implementation. Hopefully, we won't drop the ball. Hopefully we will incorporate the best of online and in class education that is focused on the individual learning needs of the students.

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Avatar for user 'Peking_Duck_SD'

Peking_Duck_SD | July 9, 2013 at 9:17 p.m. ― 3 years, 8 months ago

It sounds like these new standards are more practical. I do think we learn better when we are able to apply concepts and see interdisciplinary relations versus simply memorizing facts and formulas and containing everything in separate subject compartments.

Science, math, history, art, music, they are all inter-related in various ways and learning based on multidisciplinary scenarios instead of compartmentalized subjects is a good approach, IMO.

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Avatar for user 'CaliforniaDefender'

CaliforniaDefender | July 10, 2013 at 10:36 a.m. ― 3 years, 8 months ago

If this plan is truly cooperation between the states and completely free of federal influence and money, then I hope it works out.

Cooperation is wonderful in education, but not when it eliminates local control.

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