Friday, March 26, 2010

Ohio's Science Standards for Review

The second draft of the revised PreK-12 Science Education Standards for Ohio has been posted for public review. The documents include the PreK-8 grade-by-grade descriptions and the high school syllabi. The high school syllabi were developed based on the requirements of the Ohio core but do not represent all the possible courses for the advanced science requirements. All of the materials, which illustrate what science content is recommended for each grade, may be viewed by clicking here.

The second draft materials will be available for public comment from now until April 19, 2010. You may use the feedback questionnaire, located at the same site, to provide input from your review of this latest version of the science standards. Feedback from this round of public review and comment will be part of the ongoing revision process. The final version of the PreK-12 Science Education Standards for Ohio will be submitted to the State Board of Education in May for adoption during the June 2010 State Board meeting.

Public response on the first draft of the revised science standards was received from 103 focus/discussion groups (1184 individual participants) and 456 individual survey responses, for a total of 1640 individuals. As a result of the public feedback and the National Expert reviews, ODE staff reviewed and incorporated suggested changes when appropriate. The Science Standards Working Group, made up of teachers and science content and science education faculty from institutions of higher education also reviewed the feedback and contributed to the current draft.

Examples of changes include a reworking of content statements on energy at the elementary-level in the physical science standards to address energy in a less abstract, more observable manner; illustrating more explicitly the relationship of scientific inquiry to the revised science standards, and providing more clarity in the high school syllabi for physical science and biology. Additional research was conducted at both the national and international level to ensure that the latest revisions reflect the accepted learning progressions for the main themes within the science disciplines.

Technological design and 21st-century skills are critical to the teaching and learning of science and help to ensure that students are ready for careers or college. These important components will be blended with scientific inquiry and applications in the Model Curriculum. This next phase of the science standards addresses “how” science should be taught. The Model Curriculum will also emphasize real-world applications and making science relevant to students. The combination of the “what” of the revised science standards and the “how” of the Model Curriculum will contribute to increased depth of student learning and provide the components essential for encouraging scientific literacy for all students.

The third phase of the science standards revision will include the development of the “Eye of Integration.” (The “Eye” is illustrated in the PDF introduction to the second draft of the science standards.) This tool will be designed to encourage teachers to think about how content can be integrated between different disciplines and provide examples of possible cross-curricular integration. This cross-curricular integration has the potential of increasing the depth of the content, adding relevancy and helping to develop real-world and global connections. The integration includes engineering, technology and universal skills that ensure students are learning what they need to succeed after high school.

No revised standards will be implemented until new assessments are in place (probably around 2013). Given the proposed timing on the national standards, there will be time to make any needed adjustments before teachers are confronted with revised science standards. The emphasis for teachers between now and about 2013 will be to teach the current standards, using scientific inquiry in conjunction with the 5Es, emphasizing content depth. Click here to see the Ohio Science Matrix, a good reference.

Source: ODE Science Initiatives Administrator, Constance K. Barsky PhD, with permission to share.

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