The Kentucky Department of Education is asking educators and others to weigh in on new science standards the state will likely adopt sometime this year.
Kentucky is one of 26 states that are helping craft the Next Generation Science Standards though the leading organization Achieve. The leading states are participating with the intent to adopt the standards that are expected to be published by the end of March.
The national science standards haven’t been updated for over 15 years, according to KDE, and adopting new standards was built into 2009’s Senate Bill 1, which established Kentucky’s current Unbridled Learning accountability model.
The draft of the new standards requesting public comment is based on a framework handed down by the National Research Council.
The changes will broaden science concepts across content areas, and will teach students practical uses of science more than before, said Sean Elkins, a science consultant for KDE.
“That’s a pretty big significant change from the old standards. The fact that each of the major performance expectations really tries to address not only content but also these cross cutting ideas in science and engineering practices,” he said.
Engineering is the key word. The new standards “emphasize hands-on learning and understanding processes rather than memorizing information,” according to the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
Elkins further says, “the fact that these standards attend to engineering as opposed to the traditional sub-domains of life, earth and physical science are a pretty big change.”
There were over 10,000 comments from individuals and organizations during the first public comment period. The second and final public comment period is open until Jan. 29.
Elkins says he expects the new standards will be presented to the Kentucky Board of Education later this year with the intent to adopt them.
Kentucky Education Commissioner Terry Holliday says when new standards are adopted, the proficiency rates may drop similarly to when the state assessed the new math and English standards this past year.