The “Next Generation Science Standards” are now out for inspection—though some remaining bits won't appear until later in the month—and Fordham's expert science team has just begun its review. In a few weeks, we'll have an appraisal. Later in the spring, we expect to produce some comparisons with individual states' present standards.
It's no secret that many of those are mediocre or worse—sometimes far worse. But it's also no secret that a few states have outstanding science standards, so devising such isn't impossible.
States that are already grappling with the challenges of implementing and assessing the Common Core standards for English language arts and math will, of course, need to determine just how many unfamiliar foods they can swallow and digest at once. And it's already evident that the new science standards will elicit some degree of controversy, not least because some topics covered therein are inherently contentious, beginning with evolution and climate change. (Climate change "activists" are already declaring that their side has "won" in the science standards.)
How science should be taught and learned is also certain to be tussled over. The NGSS emphasizes “doing” it. We'll await our reviewers' judgment of whether these new standards also pay sufficient attention to “knowing” it.
RELATED ARTICLE: Justin Gillis, “New Guidelines Call for Broad Changes in Science Education,” New York Times, April 9, 2013.
- Just got back from a great trip to Kansas City (part of my National Agitation Tour). The Kauffman Foundation is doing very important work (check out these videos), and their team members were terrific hosts. You can scroll through the audience’s take on my book talk here. Per my pushing for the replacement of the failed urban district, Marc Porter Magee, temporarily at the helm of the SS Hess-blog, turns in a good piece about the need for cage-busting leaders to change the system, not just break its rules.
- Common Core (and assessments!) guru KPM teamed up with Sol Stern on National Review Online to explain to conservatives why the new common standards aren’t to be feared or pilloried. Tom Friedman’s column explains why the U.S. needs tougher standards and expectations, even (especially?) in our more comfortable (complacent?) middle-class communities.
- If you care about urban schooling, charters, and/or governance reform, you ought to give the latest report from Fordham and Public Impact a read. It looks into charter performance in five cities and offers lots of reason for encouragement and sound advice for improving policy and practice. Its prescription (smart authorizing, closures, replications, strong support environment, etc.) mirrors that of my book. When you combine these lessons with recent findings from CREDO’s many city-
Category: Charters & Choice / Curriculum & Instruction / Standards, Testing, & Accountability / Teachers
- The U.S. Department of Education just announced more SIG money going out the door. At a TBFI event late last year, the Department and I tussled about the results to date, which showed that more than a third of participating schools (already among the lowest performing in the nation) had gotten worse despite this multi-BILLION dollar program. I sadly predicted these grim results several years ago—not because I’m clairvoyant but because stacks of research over decades showed that turnarounds aren’t a reliable or scalable strategy for generating more high-quality seats. But the Department remains bullish; the release says, “Early findings show positive momentum and progress in many SIG schools.”
Many of us are looking forward to thoroughly analyzing the program’s effects, but we’ve been in a holding pattern. The Department still hasn’t released school-level results from Year 1 yet (even though those tests were given two years ago), and we’ve not yet received any results from Year 2 (even though those tests were given a year ago). Forgive the quick snark, but maybe we just have to wait until close of business on the Friday before Thanksgiving week again to get results.
- If you follow the common-assessments consortia, make sure to read this post by Catherine Gewertz about PARCC’s and SB’s plans to maintain financial sustainability when federal dollars run out. This is just one of the
Category: Charters & Choice / Curriculum & Instruction / Governance / Standards, Testing, & Accountability
In New Jersey, the state department of education released draft regulations for a new teacher evaluation system. The slide deck they used to describe the plan is superb. Among other things, the package includes rules governing the use of student performance data, including “student growth percentiles” (SGP). I was with the department when this all was just a set of ideas nearly three years ago. Since then, the state has moved forward slowly but steadily—see the timeline on slide 4—rolling out a smart, fair plan. I’m proud of my old team.
PARCC, one of two testing consortia associated with Common Core, released a bevy of materials last week (Education Week writes it up here). The group’s website now has a wide array of resources available, including item and task prototypes, explanations of design features and policies for students with disabilities, and an over-arching guidance document. The consortia are reaching a pivotal moment: states need to budget and make decisions about sunsetting current tests. This release was probably timed (wisely) to give member states confidence that PARCC is on schedule. As I’ve written previously, should states have any doubts about the quality, cost, or punctuality of these assessments, we may see a wave of states pulling out, like Alabama did not long ago.
Philadelphia’s district is closing 23 schools. Why? “More than a quarter of
About the Editor
Michael J. Petrilli
Executive Vice President
Mike Petrilli is one of the nation's foremost education analysts. As executive vice president of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, he oversees the organization's research projects and publications and contributes to the Flypaper blog and weekly Education Gadfly newsletter.
Sign Up for updates from the Thomas B. Fordham Institute
- Core Knowledge Blog
- Daniel Willingham: Science and Education Blog
- Education Next Blog
- Getting Smart
- Gotham Schools
- Jay P. Greene
- Joanne Jacobs
- NACSA's Chartering Quality
- National Journal Education Blog
- NCTQ Pretty Darn Quick
- NCTQ Teacher Quality Bulletin
- Ohio Education Gadfly
- Politics K-12
- Quick and the Ed
- Rick Hess Straight Up
- The Corner
- The Hechinger Report
- Top Performers