An ambitious effort to develop common science standards across states will soon face a second—and final—round of public vetting and feedback. The new draft, crafted through a partnership that has brought together education officials from 26 states, is now slated to arrive the first week of January. That's later than the promised fall release signaled earlier by organizers.
The standards, which aim to refocus K-12 science education, are now projected to be finalized in March. After that, it's up to individual states to decide if they want to adopt them.
Top priorities among the standards writers include: promoting depth over breadth in science education, ensuring greater coherence in learning across grade levels, and helping students understand the cross-cutting nature of crucial concepts that span scientific disciplines. Another key goal is to ensure that students apply their learning through scientific inquiry and the engineering-design process to deepen their understanding.
It's hard to say how many states will ultimately embrace the new standards. As I reported earlier this year, the 26 "lead states" developing the Next Generation Science Standards are not bound to adopt them, but have pledged to give "serious consideration" to doing so. Organizers say other states are interested in the effort and may well adopt them. At least two states that took a pass on the Common Core State Standards, Texas and Virginia, have already signaled they will not be adopting the science standards. However, a Virginia official said last spring that they would be "reviewed" and "taken into account" when the Old Dominion next revises its science standards, in 2017.
As you might imagine, the first draft of the standards did spark some criticism. For example, it drew some friendly fire from the National Science Teachers Association and the Thomas B. Fordham Institute. In addition, advocates for computer science education argued that the first draft gave their discipline short shrift.
A statement by organizers of the science-standards project says that since the May release of the first draft, the "lead states and the writers evaluated the tens of thousands of comments collected ... and worked on revising the standards." In fact, a "feedback report" will be issued together with the second public draft to explain how feedback was handled and why.
For more details on exactly who is writing the common science standards, check out this blog post.