National Science Education Standards

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The National Science Education Standards (NSES) [1] represent guidelines for the science education in primary and secondary schools in the United States, as established by the National Research Council in 1996. These provide a set of goals for teachers to set for their students and for administrators to provide professional development. The NSES influence various states' own science learning standards (such as the Massachusetts Frameworks), [2] and statewide standardized testing. [3]

Contents

Education Reform

The science standards is only one of a number of reforms organized around the principles of outcomes-based education. The mathematics counterpart are the controversial NCTM standards, which also de-emphasize knowledge of disconnected facts and content in favor of context-dependent critical thinking skills and process. Progressive education seeks to reform traditional education, taking into account current understandings of human learning.

Vision

The content of these standards is based heavily on a specific model of learning, constructivism (learning theory). [4] Like reform mathematics, [5] which is distinguished by an emphasis on building on what a child already knows and understands, the standards intend to update the methods of science education to achieve greater effectiveness with children. The goals of the standards include:

The intended purpose of the standards is to define teaching methods which apply to all students, regardless of age, gender, cultural or ethnic background, disabilities, aspirations, or interest and motivation in science, recognizing that different students will achieve understanding in different ways, and some students will achieve different degrees of depth and breadth of understanding depending on interest, ability, and context. However, the standards expect that all students can develop the knowledge and skills described in the standards.

The goal of scientific literacy includes inquiry, history and nature of science, personal and social perspectives of science, science, and technology, in addition to the science domains of life science, physical science, and earth and space science. Programs defined according to these standards should be developmentally appropriate, interesting, and relevant to students’ lives. [6]

Organization of the Standards

The NSES are organized into six categories:

Critics

Many critics of standards-based education reform [7] and reform mathematics are also critical of the emphasis of the standards on process and inquiry-based science rather than learning of facts. Science assessments such as WASL in Washington state [8] contain very little factual content, and most assessment is based on the ability of students as young as the fifth grade to construct and interpret science experiments. By contrast, previous generations of high school and even college students were only expected to participate in, rather than design science experiments from scratch, complete with a list of materials. The principles of the standards are similar to controversial approaches taken to mathematics and language arts which de-emphasize basic skills traditionally taught in elementary school as being inappropriate to the ability level of some students. Yet content and skills that were traditionally taught at the college level, requiring "higher order" and "critical thinking" are brought down to K-12 to "raise standards".

Notes

The Five Biggest Ideas in Science, Wynn & Wiggins, 1997 and cited in Understanding by Design, Wiggins and McTighe, 2005. 9.67.

See also

Related Research Articles

Outcome-based education Educational system based on the desired goals

Outcome-based education or outcomes-based education (OBE), also known as standards-based education, is an educational theory that bases each part of an educational system around goals (outcomes). By the end of the educational experience, each student should have achieved the goal. There is no single specified style of teaching or assessment in OBE; instead, classes, opportunities, and assessments should all help students achieve the specified outcomes. The role of the faculty adapts into instructor, trainer, facilitator, and/or mentor based on the outcomes targeted.

Science education is the teaching and learning of science to non-scientists, such as school children, college students, or adults within the general public. The field of science education includes work in science content, science process, some social science, and some teaching pedagogy. The standards for science education provide expectations for the development of understanding for students through the entire course of their K-12 education and beyond. The traditional subjects included in the standards are physical, life, earth, space, and human sciences.

Mathematics education Mathematics teaching, learning and scholarly research

In contemporary education, mathematics education is the practice of teaching and learning mathematics, along with the associated scholarly research.

Curriculum Educational plan

In education, a curriculum is broadly defined as the totality of student experiences that occur in the educational process. The term often refers specifically to a planned sequence of instruction, or to a view of the student's experiences in terms of the educator's or school's instructional goals. In a 2003 study, Reys, Reys, Lapan, Holliday, and Wasman refer to curriculum as a set of learning goals articulated across grades that outline the intended mathematics content and process goals at particular points in time throughout the K–12 school program. Curriculum may incorporate the planned interaction of pupils with instructional content, materials, resources, and processes for evaluating the attainment of educational objectives. Curriculum is split into several categories: the explicit, the implicit, the excluded, and the extracurricular.

Constructivism (philosophy of education) Philosophical viewpoint about the nature of knowledge; theory of knowledge

Constructivism is a theory in education that recognizes the learners' understanding and knowledge based on their own experiences prior to entering school. It is associated with various philosophical positions, particularly in epistemology as well as ontology, politics, and ethics. The origin of the theory is also linked to Jean Piaget's theory of cognitive development.

Principles and Standards for School Mathematics (PSSM) are guidelines produced by the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) in 2000, setting forth recommendations for mathematics educators. They form a national vision for preschool through twelfth grade mathematics education in the US and Canada. It is the primary model for standards-based mathematics.

Founded in 1920, The National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) is the world's largest mathematics education organization.

Understanding by Design, or UbD, is an educational planning approach. UbD is an example of backward design, the practice of looking at the outcomes in order to design curriculum units, performance assessments, and classroom instruction. UbD focuses on teaching to achieve understanding. It is advocated by Jay McTighe and Grant Wiggins in their Understanding by Design (1998), published by the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development. Understanding by Design and UbD are registered trademarks of the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (ASCD).

In an educational setting, standards-based assessment is assessment that relies on the evaluation of student understanding with respect to agreed-upon standards, also known as "outcomes". The standards set the criteria for the successful demonstration of the understanding of a concept or skill.

Formative assessment, formative evaluation, formative feedback, or assessment for learning, including diagnostic testing, is a range of formal and informal assessment procedures conducted by teachers during the learning process in order to modify teaching and learning activities to improve student attainment. The goal of a formative assessment is to monitor student learning to provide ongoing feedback that can help students identify their strengths and weaknesses and target areas that need work. It also helps faculty recognize where students are struggling and address problems immediately. It typically involves qualitative feedback for both student and teacher that focuses on the details of content and performance. It is commonly contrasted with summative assessment, which seeks to monitor educational outcomes, often for purposes of external accountability.

Education reform in the United States since the 1980s has been largely driven by the setting of academic standards for what students should know and be able to do. These standards can then be used to guide all other system components. The SBE reform movement calls for clear, measurable standards for all school students. Rather than norm-referenced rankings, a standards-based system measures each student against the concrete standard. Curriculum, assessments, and professional development are aligned to the standards.

A curriculum framework is an organized plan or set of standards or learning outcomes that defines the content to be learned in terms of clear, definable standards of what the student should know and be able to do.

Basic skills can be compared to higher order thinking skills. Facts and methods are highly valued under the back-to-basics approach to education.

Learning standards are elements of declarative, procedural, schematic, and strategic knowledge that, as a body, define the specific content of an educational program. Standards are usually composed of statements that express what a student knows.

Connected Mathematics is a comprehensive mathematics program intended for U.S. students in grades 6-8. The curriculum design, text materials for students, and supporting resources for teachers were created and have been progressively refined by the Connected Mathematics Project (CMP) at Michigan State University with advice and contributions from many mathematics teachers, curriculum developers, mathematicians, and mathematics education researchers.

Inquiry-based learning is a form of active learning that starts by posing questions, problems or scenarios. It contrasts with traditional education, which generally relies on the teacher presenting facts and their own knowledge about the subject. Inquiry-based learning is often assisted by a facilitator rather than a lecturer. Inquirers will identify and research issues and questions to develop knowledge or solutions. Inquiry-based learning includes problem-based learning, and is generally used in small scale investigations and projects, as well as research. The inquiry-based instruction is principally very closely related to the development and practice of thinking and problem solving skills.

Backward design

Backward design is a method of designing an educational curriculum by setting goals before choosing instructional methods and forms of assessment. Backward design of curriculum typically involves three stages:

  1. Identify the results desired
  2. Determine acceptable levels of evidence that support that the desired results have occurred
  3. Design activities that will make desired results happen

From kindergarten through high school, the mathematics education in public schools in the United States has historically varied widely from state to state, and often even varies considerably within individual states. With the recent adoption of the Common Core Standards by 45 states, mathematics content across the country is moving into closer agreement for each grade level.

The Common Core State Standards Initiative is an educational initiative from 2010 that details what K–12 students throughout the United States should know in English language arts and mathematics at the conclusion of each school grade. The initiative is sponsored by the following organizations:

Differentiated instruction and assessment, also known as differentiated learning or, in education, simply, differentiation, is a framework or philosophy for effective teaching that involves providing all students within their diverse classroom community of learners a range of different avenues for understanding new information in terms of: acquiring content; processing, constructing, or making sense of ideas; and developing teaching materials and assessment measures so that all students within a classroom can learn effectively, regardless of differences in their ability. Students vary in culture, socioeconomic status, language, gender, motivation, ability/disability, learning styles, personal interests and more, and teachers must be aware of these varieties as they plan in accordance with the curricula. By considering varied learning needs, teachers can develop personalized instruction so that all children in the classroom can learn effectively. Differentiated classrooms have also been described as ones that respond to student variety in readiness levels, interests, and learning profiles. It is a classroom that includes and allows all students to be successful. To do this, a teacher sets different expectations for task completion for students, specifically based upon their individual needs.

References

  1. "National Science Education Standards". www.csun.edu. Retrieved 2018-05-23.
  2. "The Massachusetts Curriculum Frameworks for PreK-12". Mass.gov. Retrieved 2018-05-23.
  3. "State school board approves reducing standardized testing | WVEA". www.wvea.org. Retrieved 2018-05-23.
  4. "Constructivism Learning Theory". www.teach-nology.com. Retrieved 2018-05-23.
  5. Bono, Melissa (2002-11-30). "Reform in Mathematics Education: Rethinking the Curriculum". Concept. 26.
  6. The Influence of the National Science Education Standards on the Science Curriculum James D. Ellis University of Kansas
  7. Lab, Step. "What Is Standards-Based Reform?". web.stanford.edu. Retrieved 2018-05-23.
  8. "Different name, but new state test similar to WASL". The Seattle Times. 2009-08-14. Retrieved 2018-05-23.