W.Va. to Lead National Effort for Common Science Standards

September 20, 2011

CHARLESTON, W.Va. – West Virginia is among 20 states selected to lead a national effort to improve science education for all students through the development of Next Generation Science Standards. 

The standards will clearly define the content and practices students will need to learn from kindergarten through high school graduation. West Virginia Superintendent Jorea Marple on Tuesday at Sissonville Middle School announced the selection. She was joined by representatives from Kanawha County Schools, the National Youth Science Foundation, TechConnect consortium, the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission, West Virginia State University, Marshall University and the June Harless STEM Center at Marshall.

“Research tells us that common, rigorous standards lead to more students reaching higher levels of achievement,” Marple said. “In the 21st century, preparing today’s students for deeper levels of scientific investigation and understanding is critical to their future success.”

West Virginia and the other states applied to participate in the program with support of their chief state school officer and the president of the state Board of Education. West Virginia has strong support for science education from legislators as well as collaborative efforts among K-12 and higher education and business and industry, a plus in its application.

As a lead state partner, West Virginia will guide the standard writing process, gather and deliver feedback from state-level committees and come together to address common issues and challenges.

“We are fortunate that West Virginia’s voice will be heard as Next Generation Science Standards are developed,” Marple said. “As West Virginia moves forward with the possible adoption of these standards, we will see them evolve first hand. It is quite an honor.”

The development of the Next Generation Science Standards is a two-step process being managed by Achieve, an education reform non-profit organization. The other participating states are  Arizona, California, Georgia, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Tennessee, Vermont and  Washington.

“The Lead State Partners will provide important leadership and guidance throughout the development of the Next Generation Science Standards and are to be congratulated for making a strong commitment to improving science education,” said Michael Cohen, president of Achieve. “This will be a collaborative process that will lead to a set of standards that provides America’s students with a strong foundation in science and supports college and career readiness for all.”

The first step of the standards development was the creation of a framework that identified the core ideas and practices in natural sciences and engineering that all students should be familiar with by the time they graduate from high school.

In July, the National Research Council released “A Framework for K-12 Science Education,” developed by a committee representing expertise in science, teaching and learning, curriculum, assessment and education policy.

The second step is the development of science standards based on the framework. The 20 state participants have agreed to commit staff time to the initiative and, upon completion, give serious consideration to adopting the Next Generation Science Standards.

A recent U.S. Department of Commerce study shows that over the past 10 years, growth in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) jobs was three times greater than that of non-STEM jobs. The report also shows that STEM jobs are expected to continue to grow at a faster rate than other jobs in the coming decade.

“There is a clear benefit to providing our students with the strong science education they need to compete in college and the workplace,” said Stephen Pruitt, Achieve vice president and coordinator of the Next Generation Science Standards effort. “A strong science education provides all students with opportunities to be successful in the 21st century.”

For more information, contact the West Virginia Department of Education’s Office of Communications at 304-558-2699, or visit the Next Generation Science Standards website at www.nextgenscience.org.

--The West Virginia Board of Education and the West Virginia Department of Education (WVDE) are committed to ensuring all students in the state are college and career ready when they graduate from a public school. What West Virginia students are learning in school exceeds national and international standards. Through the WVDE’s 21st century learning plan called Global21: Students deserve it. The world demands it.,” West Virginia is seeing better student performance on the West Virginia Educational Standards Test 2 (WESTEST2); the SAT and the ACT college entrance exams; the job skills assessment called Work Keys given to career and technical education students; and in a high school graduation rate that exceeds the national average.






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