It’s happened relatively quietly, but over the last six months a group of 39 Louisiana educators and other experts have been working to upgrade our state’s academic standards in science. This week those standards won final approval from the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education, and that’s great news for all of our students.
To say that our standards needed an update is an understatement. The ones we are using have been in place for the last 20 years which feels like eons when you’re talking about a dynamic field of study like science. And given the major multi-year fight that occurred when the state revamped it’s English and math standards, it was hard to know what to expect when the science standards came under review.
Science may be science, but in some ways it’s even more politically sensitive than the other topics. But the good news is that politics seemed to pretty much stay out of the review process this time and outside of some last-minute attempts to weaken some of the standards dealing with evolution, the whole review seemed to be strongly focused on sound evidence-based principles of science.
To some degree our new standards are based on something called the Next Generation Science Standards which are widely seen as the new benchmark for teaching science to our students. It was developed on a volunteer basis by a large group of educators from 26 states and other experts, including representatives of the National Science Teachers Association, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and the National Research Council.
While our new standards aren’t exactly the same as the Next Generation standards, they are clearly aligned with them and they demonstrate that Louisiana is committed to standards in science that are nationally comparable and make our students competitive with students from any other state. That’s hugely important.
It’s also key that the science teachers and those who know about science standards in our state have all been tremendously supportive of the new standards and that should give our citizens, parents and the business community confidence that Louisiana is indeed trying to equip all of our kids for the challenges of the future.
Thanks are also in order to the many educators who spent thousands of hours reviewing, revising, critiquing and ultimately developing our new standards. Louisiana science teachers have long shown a strong commitment to the furtherance of straightforward, factual science education. By all accounts, it looks like they have delivered for our students once again.