Kentucky is moving forward with new science standards following a controversial week of rejection and then embrace as Gov. Steve Beshear announced he would use his powers to override any legislative committee’s decision to block implementation.
The Next Generation Science Standards were developed an an independent consortium of 26 states including Kentucky and are meant to update the state’s current science standards that haven’t been touched in over a decade.
Among the controversy is whether the standards overstep their reach by including more lessons on climate change and evolution. Some also argue that the standards are inferior to the state’s current standards. But educators and the science community overwhelmingly support the standards.
WFPL spoke with Dr. Tom Tretter who is a faculty member in Science Education at the University of Louisville and director of Gheens Science Hall and Rauch Planetarium. Tretter was also part of higher education team that Kentucky used to evaluate drafts of the standards during their creation.
Listen to the following answers he gave to some questions that have been brought up over the past couple weeks.
Did Kentucky take the Next Generation Science Standards–once developed through the consortium–back to the state and then consider changes to those standards specific to Kentucky?
Are the new science standards similar to the common core standards in math and English language arts that were adopted and implemented in Kentucky last year and how are they improved over Kentucky’s current standards?
Are there fewer standards, but taught more in-depth similar to the common core standards?
We’ve heard local districts will have control over their curriculum and how to teach the standards. What does this mean and how is curriculum different from standards?
Will this allow districts and schools to teach things like evolution and climate change the way they want, which may not include what science seems to suggest?
What if you live in a community where lawmakers, teachers, the school board reject elements of the new standards. Will it be easy enough to reject the standards in the classroom?