DES MOINES – Members of Iowa’s Science Standards Review Team today recommended adoption of the Next Generation Science Standards with modifications as Iowa’s new science standards.
The recommendation will be formalized in a report next month and will be sent to the State Board of Education for consideration.
The Next Generation Science Standards is the name of science standards developed by 26 states, including Iowa, that all states can consider adopting and adapting to meet their needs. Academic standards represent consistent expectations for what students should know and be able to do from kindergarten through 12th grade. Iowa’s academic standards are being reviewed, starting with science, as part of Gov. Branstad’s Executive Order 83.
The review team’s recommendation proposes modifying the Next Generation Science Standards for Iowa so that only the performance expectations section is used, rather than the entire standards document. Members said the performance expectations are easier to understand, especially for teachers in subject areas other than science, and allow for more local control because they are broader than other parts of the standards document.
The team’s recommendation also proposes modifying the Next Generation Science Standards for Iowa by separating them by grade level for kindergarten through 8th grade and organizing the high school standards into a span of grades.
The Science Standards Review Team’s recommendation was based on the expertise of members and feedback from Iowans gathered through public forums and a statewide survey.
Team members said the Next Generation Science Standards represent an improvement from Iowa’s current science standards for a number of reasons. They reflect more modern practices in science, were developed by experts in a process led by states including Iowa, and include engineering practices – which is important as Iowa grows its commitment to science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education, said Kris Kilibarda, a review team member.
“These standards will prepare our students to be scientifically literate citizens and will provide the base for more advanced study for Iowans who pursue careers in science and engineering,” said Kilibarda, who is director of the Jacobson Institute for Innovation in STEM Education at Grand View University.
The recommendation capped off more than five months of work by the Science Standards Review Team, which is made up of education and business leaders with expertise in physical science, life science, earth and space science, and engineering, technology and application. Iowa Department of Education Director Brad Buck convened the team last fall to review Iowa’s science standards, as well as rigorous science standards from other states and organizations, and to make a recommendation for improvement.
In December, the review team made a preliminary recommendation to take the Next Generation Science Standards to the public for feedback.
A statewide survey and four public forums throughout the state generated about 2,600 comments in February. A majority of comments were in favor of the Next Generation Science Standards. For example, the survey results showed 69 percent of survey participants agreed that the Next Generation Science Standards will prepare students to be ready for college, careers and other postsecondary options.
Review team members studied and discussed the public feedback at two meetings in March. At their March 24 meeting, team members agreed that the Next Generation Science Standards should be the basis for their work on a final recommendation.
At today’s meeting, the review team approved the following recommendation on a 9-2 vote:
- We recommend the Next Generation Science Standards performance expectations be adopted in Iowa as grade-specific standards for grades K-8 and grade-span standards for grades 9-12.
To read the Next Generation Science Standards, visit http://www.nextgenscience.org/.
To read Iowa’s academic standards, visit https://iowacore.gov/.
For more information about the Science Standards Review Team, visit the Iowa Department of Education’s website.