Commissioner Robinson’s comments at this morning’s State Board of Education meeting made it clear that Plan A is to stick with the “clarified” version of the present Florida science standards instead of adopting the Next Generation Science Standards when they become available next year.
Florida is a leader in the Common Core Standards movement in math and English language arts, and is planning to implement a multi-state examination program in those subjects within the next few years.
However, the state’s educational leaders apparently do not have the stomach to compete with the rest of the nation in science.
While “STEM” is supposed to be an educational priority in Florida, there is apparently no “science” in “STEM”.
Update: For completeness, I’m going to reproduce a comment I left on the Florida Citizens for Science web site yesterday morning in response to a comment by FCS President Joe Wolf that started, “The plan seems to be to fix the current standards. I personally think that is a good idea.” Joe was joining USF Chemistry Professor and science education legend Gerry Meisels in advocating for that strategy.
Here it is:
Hi Joe: Despite the victory FCS orchestrated on evolution education in 2008, Florida remains far behind in the science literacy of its students. The best measurement of science literacy for graduating high school seniors is the ACT science section, and we are ranked 50th among the states (including DC, so there are 51 ranked entities – only Mississippi is behind us). NAEP science shows us behind the national norms at the 4th and 8th grade levels as well. Florida’s educational leaders have decided to have the state compete at the national level in math and language arts by adopting the Common Core Standards in those fields and joining (and leading!) one of the two big assessment consortia. But we are still refusing to compete at the national level in science. What’s best for Florida’s students is for the state to take on the challenge of competing with other states, and then set the priorities and make the investments necessary to do so successfully. To date, we haven’t done that. In addition, the agonizing Next Generation Science Standards process has taken on many of the really difficult questions that we didn’t have the time to address in our state process. Narrow example: How much nuclear physics should every high school grad know? I had that argument with the President of the American Association of Physics Teachers a month ago (she argued more, I said less, by the way). The closest we came during the Florida process was my shouting at Tom Jordan from the back of the meeting room that he was nuts to think that every high school grad should understand field theory. I agree with you that it is prudent to wait until we have the finished NGSS product in our hands. But in the end, if we are honest with ourselves, it is almost certain that going national will be best for our students.