Science Standards

Barriers to Teaching and Learning

The march to standardize and uniform the curriculum is a dangerous movement in a democratic society, and especially in one that is so diverse in cultures, languages, and geography as America.  How can we really think that one set of statements of science objectives written by non-practitioners can be truly be valid for all learners, all schools, and all teachers?

sciencestandardsThe common standards movement, and now, a new generation of science standards rests in part on the opinion that state standards are inferior and inconsistent, and there is the need to increase student achievement, especially in science and mathematics, in order to remain competitive in the global economic environment. It’s had to argue with this. However, it is not true.  America is one of the most competitive countries in the world, indeed, number 4 in the world.

The drive to develop the common standards has also been “adopted” by the U.S. Department of Education, and in its Race to the Top Fund ($4.5 billion), states that did not adopt the common standards lost 70 points on the 500 point scale for doing so. Why do these organizations want to develop a single set of standards, and will they be any better than the standards that exist in the 50 states today?  The fact is state departments of education around the country have in one sense been coerced into accepting the common core standards in order to apply for very large Federal grants, and there is the assumption that a national set of standards will be superior to standards developed at the state level.

Next Generation Science Standards: Ready, Set, Almost!

UPDATE: The Next Generation Science Standards Published in Final Form in a Matter of Months

As you know, the Next Generation Science Standards will be available sometime in 2013  from Achieve, Inc., the company that is benefiting from the Authoritarian Standards and High-Stakes Testing movementNSTA and AAAS, the two major science teaching and science organizations in the United States are involved in the review process, and by and large appear to be uncritical of the new standards.

According to some science education researchers, standards present real problems to you, especially in the context of high-stakes testing.  We’ll call standards in this context, “accountability standards.”  Indeed, you might agree with these researchers when they say that accountability standards pose barriers to meaningful teaching and learning in the science classroom.  One researcher reported that two attributes of the science standards impede teaching and learning as follows:

  • The tightly specified nature of successful learning performances precludes classroom teachers from modifying the standards to fits the needs of their students.
  • The standards are removed from the thinking and reasoning processes needed to achieve them.

Accountability Science Standards

In this cornerstone landing page, the Art of Teaching Science has written articles that will give you a view of the authoritarian science standards in which questions are raised, objections are made, and suggestions are posed.

The Race is On

Some Attributes of the New Standards

How the Standards Movement Affects Science Teaching

Corporate and Foundation Views of the Standards

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