LINCOLN — Draft science standards for Nebraska public schools moved closer to adoption Thursday, but a state official said they may yet be tweaked.
The standards, for the first time, would specifically include the teaching of climate change. However, students would “evaluate the reliability and validity” of climate models before making a projection of future climate trends.
Three members of the Nebraska State Board of Education who serve on the board’s teaching and learning committee voted to recommend approval to the full board when they meet next month.
Voting in favor were Lisa Fricke, Rachel Wise and committee chairwoman Maureen Nickels.
Board members were briefed on the draft standards on Wednesday.
An earlier draft, made public in May, worded the climate change standards as settled science.
That version called on students to “gather and analyze” data from models to “recognize patterns in climate change over time.”
Nickels said the standards would “raise the bar” of science education in Nebraska. She said the standards go beyond content knowledge and would teach children the process of science.
She said committee members as well as school administrators she’s spoken to are comfortable with them.
The standards list what students should know and be able to do in science in kindergarten through high school.
They would replace standards adopted in 2010. State law requires the department to update standards every seven years.
Once approved, local districts have a year to adopt the standards, or their own of equal or greater rigor. State officials indicated Thursday, however, that the state might not test students on the standards until the 2020-21 school year, giving districts time to incorporate them and teachers to learn them.
The latest draft reflects some changes based on public input via an online survey and emails.
Cory Epler, chief academic officer for the Nebraska Department of Education, said there still could be some changes before adoption.
At the board’s monthly meeting on Thursday, board member Pat McPherson asked Epler whether suggestions from the public are being considered.
“Have you listened to them, and how have you responded to them?”
Epler said the comments sometimes spurred changes or reflected changes the department was already considering.
“We don’t take it lightly,” he said.
A team of Nebraska educators wrote the draft standards, drawing upon other states’ standards and the Next Generation Science Standards.
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