Education
2:27 pm
Fri September 13, 2013

What's Next For Kentucky's New Science Standards?

Kentucky’s new science standards could face more legislative opposition, but educators are expected to convene as early as this month to begin training for implementation for the 2014-2015 school year.

The Next Generation Science Standards that were approved by the Kentucky Board of Education this year revise science education in general, but have drawn controversy for expanding on evolution and climate change.

Some claim the standards are inferior to Kentucky's current science standards, but many in the science and education communities have backed the them, saying they're needed to prepare students for college and career.

The General Assembly's Administrative Regulation Review Committee rejected the standards in a 5-1 vote this week, but Gov. Steve Beshear said he will use his powers to enact them anyway.

Officials with the Kentucky Department of Education say the state will develop Leadership Networks made up of representatives from each school district. These individuals will be responsible for taking what they learn back to their districts to teach others.

At the same time, the regulation allowing the new science standards could still be heard in a "subject committee," likely Kentucky’s Interim Joint Education Committee that's made up of 40 state lawmakers, said Donna Little of Kentucky's Legislative Research Commission.

This subject committee could decide whether to approve the standards or not. If rejected there, Beshear would have to override that decision too and send a letter stating his intention to do so, she said.

“If the governor takes six months to send the letter, the regulation would not go into effect for six months. If he sends it the next day it would go into effect the next day," said Little.

But Kentucky's education system is not waiting for that to happen.

The University of Louisville's Tom Tretter offered feedback during the standards' creation and is a member of one of the Leadership Networks. He says Kentucky needs to begin training now for the next school year and if, for some reason, the standards are rejected, there won' t likely be monumental changes made.

“We feel like it's best case and most prudent to go ahead and move forward under the initial assumption at least that we’re going to be working with these Next Generation Science Standards or something that might look just like them," he said.

Tretter says it'll be a challenge to implement the standards and said the Leadership Networks will allow educators to discuss and change how they are implemented. 

KDE officials say the networks are similar to ones created when it trained for implementing the Common Core standards in math and English language arts.

"That’s where the real work comes into play in my mind and that’s what we want to start to tackle with these leadership teams," he said.