Delaware adopts new science standards

State officials say local boards will still make decisions
October 1, 2013
Delaware has adapted new science standards that will be implemented in the classroom over the next couple of years. COURTESY NEXT GENERATION

State education officials recently adopted new science standards for Delaware public schools.

“The Next Generation Science Standards provide clear and consistent, researched-based standards that engage students in science instruction that will prepare them to utilize critical thinking and creative problem-solving necessary to excel in the global society,” said Delaware State Board of Education President Teri Quinn Gray, who is also a DuPont scientist.

Next Generation Science Standards were developed by 26 states including Delaware, which worked with the National Research Council, the National Science Teachers Association, the American Association for the Advancement of Science and Achieve, said Alison May, spokeswoman for the Delaware Department of Education.

While it is similar to Common Core Standards that have been developed for English, language arts and math, May said, the Next Generation Science Standards are a separate initiative.

Before implementing the science standards, she said, the state board of education in April held a retreat to learn more about the Next Generation Science Standards. They also held a work session in June and participated in forums and webinars through the National Association of State Boards of Education. Delaware officials partnered with scientists, administrators, teachers, parents and business leaders as the state helped review and refine the standards. DuPont is among the sponsors that have helped fund the development nationally, May said.

In early August, she said, the department hosted a series of meetings across the state to share information about the standards with the public and solicited feedback, which the State Board considered before its vote.

Secretary of Education Mark Murphy said he is excited about the new standards, which are needed because of the changes in science and in the understanding of how students learn over the past few decades.

“Our current standards do not emphasize science and engineering practices and don’t promote the type of deeper and critical thinking skills students need to be successful after graduation,” he said in a press release. “These new performance expectations will increase opportunities for all students.”

Now that the state board of education has adopted Next Generation, May said, state officials are working on a multiyear implementation plan that will include professional development.

“Common Core State Standards for English, language arts and math were adopted in 2010, and this year schools are fully implementing them across the state,” she said. “Changes such as this aren’t as simple as the flip of a switch. We look forward to working with our educators as we make this transition.”

Common Core standards came under fire last summer by groups opposed to the new changes – some who criticized the teaching of evolution.

May said teaching evolution is not new; it is something already covered in state science standards. Decisions on curriculum and lesson plans remain at the local level, she said.

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