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Iowa to lead effort to write new science standards

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Date: 
Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Iowa is one of 20 states that will lead the development of Next Generation Science Standards, which will clearly define the content and practices students will need to learn from kindergarten through high school graduation. The standards process is being managed by Achieve, a nonprofit education reform organization.

“I’m proud that Iowa is on the front lines of this ground-breaking effort to improve science education with the development of new standards,” Iowa Department of Education Director Jason Glass said. “Raising the bar for science education fits with our goal to build a world-class education system in Iowa and to prepare every child to graduate ready for college and careers in a globally competitive context. It’s also crucial to Iowa’s economy, which depends on STEM-related fields.”

The 19 other lead state partners are Arizona, California, Georgia, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Tennessee, Vermont, Washington and West Virginia.

“The lead state partners will provide important leadership and guidance throughout the development of the Next Generation Science Standards and are to be congratulated for making a strong commitment to improving science education,” said Michael Cohen, president of Achieve. “This will be a collaborative process that will lead to a set of standards that provides America’s students a strong foundation in science and supports college and career readiness for all.”

The development of the Next Generation Science Standards is a two-step process. The first step was to build a framework that identified the core ideas and practices in natural sciences and engineering that all students should be familiar with by the time they graduate. In July, the National Research Council released A Framework for K-12 Science Education, developed by a committee representing expertise in science, teaching and learning, curriculum, assessment and education policy.

The second step is the development of science standards based on the framework. As a lead state partner, Iowa will guide the standard writing process, gather and deliver feedback from state-level committees and come together to address common issues and challenges. The lead state partners also agree to commit staff time to the initiative and, upon completion, give serious consideration to adopting the Next Generation Science Standards. To be considered, states had to submit a letter signed by the state education director and the chairman of the State Board of Education.

American students continue to lag internationally in science education, making them less competitive for the jobs of the present and the future. A recent U.S. Department of Commerce study shows that over the past 10 years, growth in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) jobs was three times greater than that of non-STEM jobs. The report also shows that STEM jobs are expected to continue to grow at a faster rate than other jobs in the upcoming decade.

“There is a clear benefit to providing our students with the strong science education they need to compete in college and the work place,” said Stephen Pruitt, an Achieve vice president who is coordinating the science standards effort. “A strong science education provides all students with opportunities to be successful in the 21st century.”

Visit the Next Generation Science Standards website for more information: www.nextgenscience.org.

Printed from the Iowa Department of Education website on April 24, 2014 at 1:25pm.