Educators from the R.I. Department of Education recently completed a “road show” on what next-generation science standards will look like in the classroom when they are implemented over the next three years.
The information sessions, which began Oct. 1 and ended earlier this month, weren’t heavily attended but are part of a long-term plan to get the word out before curriculums are revamped by the 2016-17 academic year.
The new standards are intended to overlap with Common Core teachings in math, reading and writing (the English Language Arts) and to be used to guide an updated curriculum, and more importantly, a new way of teaching that better prepares students to enter the workforce, said Peter McLaren, a RIDE science and technology specialist, and Diane Sanna, curriculum director at the Tiverton public schools.
“What we’re looking for over the K-12 spectrum is for students to think and act like scientists, not necessarily to produce scientists and engineers, but to think differently,” said McLaren. “In Rhode Island and any state that adopts these standards, students are going to be better prepared to go from a K-12 environment into the workforce.”
The framework for the scope of study being developed by teachers here and elsewhere across the country is informed by guidelines put forward by the National Research Council in 2011. The vision behind the standards, which is supported by research in the 412-page document, is for every student by the end of their K-12 experience to be engaged in the science and engineering practices and be able to apply them to the core ideas of science and engineering, McLaren said.
Rhode Island was one of 26 lead states partnering in the development of these standards this past spring, and one of eight states that have formally adopted them. The standards cover a range of subject matter, including life science, earth and space science, physical science, engineering and technology. The seven other states are California, Delaware, Kansas, Maryland, Vermont, Kentucky and Washington.