From the March 2000 Idaho Observer:
New Standardized Science for all Americans
Proposed Idaho science curriculum from global education think tank
By Diana Anderson
Position Statement: Secondary Science
Since 1965, the State of Idaho has recommended that the sequence in the secondary schools, grades 7-12, be Life, Physical, Earth, Biology, Chemistry and Physics. This recommendation has proven to be, up until this time, consistent with national trends and consistent with the needs of modern science education for today's students. The publication of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Project 2061: Science for All Americans and the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) are excellent resources on curriculum recommendation and national trends in science education.
Will Project 2061 come about in Idaho?
See : http://col-ed.org/events/project2061.html
Participants in this colloquium will become the primary agents for introducing the Project 2061 Professional Development CD-Rom to their respective states and eventually promoting its use in local districts that:
1) are committed to standards-based science curricula; 2) want to provide a staff development vehicle that provides many opportunities for teachers to explore science literacy and its implications from different perspectives; and 3) are committed to developing a long-term program to enhance staff members' content knowledge and teaching craft.
The colloquium took place at the SeaTac Airport, Seattle, Washington, Wyndham Gardens Hotel to establish SMCNWS' regional science education staff development resource team. This CD-rom is a tool for Project 2061's Benchmarks and the 1996 National Science Education Standards' basis for professional development.
History of Science Standards for Idaho can be found at: http://watt.enc.org/online/ENC2972/2972_for.html. At this web site inside The Eisenhower Clearinghouse is the key to the beginnings of standards reform. It states:
In February and again in April of 1994, 14 individuals from throughout the state convened in Boise to write Idaho's K-12 Science Content Guide and Framework. This committee was composed of educators involved in classroom teaching from kindergarten through the 12th grade, administrators, college level personnel, staff of the State Department of Education, and both practicing and retired scientists. The committee's resources included materials from other states; Idaho's performance based education documents; the work of Project 2061: Science for All Americans, a study by the American Association for the Advancement of Science; the National Science Education Standards adopted by the National Committee on Science Education Standards and Assessment; and suggestions from Idaho teachers on the future of science education in Idaho.
This framework has been designed to help schools with the development of a science curriculum and program and to assist in formulating some realistic yet high goals for students. This framework is not intended to outline methods or procedures nor to recommend activities, projects, units, or plans for students and teachers. These are to be developed by local school districts. The State Department of Education recommends that all Idaho public school districts use this framework as a basic resource."
I commend each person who participated in the writings of this framework, wrote Jerry Evans, Idaho's newly elected superintendent of public instruction.
The federal government's intention to develop standardized curricula and public school exiting standards predates the 20th century. According to the book Patterns for Lifelong Learning (University of Chicago, 1973, at: http://watt.enc.org/online/ENC2972/2972_his.html) in 1892, 18 men met at the University of Chicago (a Rockefeller-funded facility that is also home to the think tank that has blessed the American people with metropolitan government) to advise the Committee of 10 on science preparation needed for college admission. They agreed that at least one year of biology followed by one year of chemistry and one year of quantitative physics would best prepare young people to enter the workforce.
The reports to the Committee of 10 include the recommendation that the laboratory records should form part of the test for admission to college.
It's interesting to note that this is essentially the curriculum that exists in the United States today. It's been rumored that the reason the order (biology, chemistry, physics) was adopted is because it makes the most sense alphabetically.
In recent years a flurry of federal standardization activity began in the wake of the report A Nation At Risk which documented the dismal failure that has become the legacy of America's public school system. Following the publication of the report were announcements by the president and the National Governors' Association that they intended to rescue public instruction by creating national education goals. The first example of this agenda was the publication of the National council of Teachers of Mathematics Standards. Efforts to develop national standards in all content areas have been funded by the U.S. Department of Education. The publication of Project 2061: Science for All Americans and the document setting benchmarks to achieve these goals late in 1993, plus efforts in Idaho to develop performance-based education, have led to the adoption of the state's exiting standards for science.
All of the issues we are facing in the legislature today with regard to exiting standards are the result of the appointment, by the State Board of Education in 1991, of a committee to develop a strategic plan for reform of Idaho's public school system. A major priority of this committee was to shift education in Idaho to a performance-based system where instruction focuses on what students are expected to know and be able to do.
Comments to Ms. Anderson's column can be forwarded to: PO Box 2487, Post Falls, Idaho 83854
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