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Kansas State Board of Education Hears Update on Next Generation Science Standards

Art Credit: KC Education Enterprise | Photo Credit (holiday lights): 123rf stock image | Photo Credit (board members): Kansas State Board of Education | Pictured (left to right) - Top Row: Kenneth Willard, Carolyn L. Wims-Campbell; Second Row: Sally Cauble, David T. Dennis, Walt Chappell, Kathy Martin; Third Row -- Sue Storm, Janet Waugh; Bottom Row: John W. Bacon, Jana Shaver

Shh! Everyone (including 10 Kansas City metropolitan area residents) working on the first draft of the national Next Generation Science Standards has been sworn to secrecy.

“Just be patient for another month or so,” Chairman David T. Dennis advised Kansas State Board of Education members who were curious about the contents of the standards, which their state is helping to develop.

According to Matt Krehbiel, a science education program consultant who earlier today briefed the board on the state team’s progress, some contributors in other states have leaked information. However, so far everyone in Kansas has kept their vows of silence.

Despite protests from board members Kathy Martin and Walt Chappell, who thought policy makers like themselves should have access to this information, Krehbiel said they would have to wait until Achieve — the nonprofit education reform organization coordinating development of the standards — makes the information public in January or February of 2012.

Last summer, the National Research Council released a science education framework developed by a team of researchers, including Nobel Prize-winning scientists. Now Achieve is coordinating the writing of public education standards based on this framework. Business, education, engineering and science experts in 26 states — including Kansas (but not Missouri) — will have the opportunity to comment on various drafts of the new science standards.

As Krehbiel pointed out, “This is bigger than just the school system.” In other words, it is important to business development and the Kansas economy to encourage science, technology, engineering and math education in the state.

Earlier this month, the Kansas committee contributing to development of the new standards held its first meeting. Many initial comments included concerns about the clarity of language in the first draft. Another important concern is the grade level appropriateness of various standards. Krehbiel’s job is now to synthesize all of this input from his committee and report back to the Achieve in early January.

Achieve will then write a second draft incorporating comments from all participating states. It is the second draft that will be released for public review and comment, and that is when Martin and Chappell will have an opportunity to satisfy their curiosity. After that there will be two more rounds of comments and drafts before the standards are finalized about a year from now.

The Kansas State Board of Education is holding its monthly meeting today and tomorrow, Dec. 13-14, in Topeka.

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About jwmartinez

JoLynne is a journalist and educator. She holds a bachelor's degree in journalism from the University of Kansas and a Master of Arts in Teaching from Park University and is certified to teach high school journalism and English. Former employment includes work for Cable News Network and the University of Missouri-Kansas City in addition to freelancing for clients such as the Kansas City Star and The Pitch.

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