First Public Draft of Next Generation Science Standards Released—Comment Period Open Until June 1
The first draft of the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) was released on May 11 and will be online for public comment until June 1.
Access the vast variety of NSTA resources and materials on NGSS (including background information) and the FREE NSTA Reader’s Guide to A Framework for K–12 Science Education, an important companion to the Framework that will help science educators prepare for the standards. Visit NSTA’s Next Generation Science Standards Forums in the NSTA Learning Center or sign up today for the comprehensive NSELA/NSTA Summer Leadership Institute, which will focus on NGSS, scheduled for June 24–28, 2012, in Austin, Texas.
New Report Links Students’ Interest in STEM to Technology in Classroom
A survey of students and educators finds children are more likely to have an interest in STEM fields when their classroom’s instructional model incorporates personalized learning strategies, digital technology, and social media. The survey results are contained in Mapping a Personalized Learning Journey—K–12 Students and Parents Connect the Dots with Digital Learning, from Project Tomorrow’s Speak Up 2011 National Research Project.
According to the report, only 20 percent of children in traditional classrooms—where instruction is teacher centered and the use of technology is minimal or nonexistent—expressed an interest in pursuing STEM fields, compared to 27 percent of technology-infused classrooms with both student-directed and teacher-directed instruction models.
The report also argues that the impending implementation of the common core state standards and the assessments that will accompany them, combined with the “continuing national self-interest in attracting more students to the STEM fields,” gives a “greater urgency” to transforming the in-school learning process through personalization enabled by technology.
Feminizing Science and Math Role Models Discourages Female Students From Pursuing STEM Fields According to New Study
Efforts to promote more feminine role models in STEM fields may actually be discouraging middle schools girls from pursuing these fields, according to a new study published in Social Psychological and Personality Science.
The first study found middle school girls who read about the blatant female role models reduced the students’ interest, perceived ability, and future expectations in math, and they showed less interest in taking future math classes in high school and college than girls who read about role models with non-STEM-specific achievements. Study 2 suggested that girls who already disliked science or felt disconnected from it were even more likely to reject the feminine STEM role model than girls who like science already.
“The bottom line, though, is that this research suggests that we don’t need to make role models or STEM fields ‘girly’ to motivate girls,” they told me. “Instead, we should turn to what we already know makes a helpful role model. Girls have to feel like they can relate to or identify with the female scientists they see and learn about. … Female role models should also be shown as actively involved in science rather than passive observers or tokens: show women really using equipment and conducting research. Teaching girls about what scientists and engineers really do, and especially highlighting their social usefulness and communal aspects, has been found to be motivating for girls.”
U.S. Students Show Slight Improvement on Science Test; No Cause For Optimism, Says NSTA
The science results of the 2011 National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP), also known as The Nation’s Report Card, were released last week by the National Assessment Governing Board (NAGB). The results showed that the average eighth grade science score rose from 150 in 2009 to 152 in 2011, a small increase, but still far below 170, which is considered science proficiency on the test’s 300-point scale.
The NAEP data also revealed that score gaps between white and black students and between white and Hispanic students narrowed slightly from 2009 to 2011. In comparison to 2009, average science scores in 2011 were one point higher for white students, three points higher for black students, and five points higher for Hispanic students.
NAEP tested a nationally representative sample of 122,000 students in 8th grade from 7,290 public and private schools. Among the 47 states that chose to participate in both years, scores were only higher in 16 states—Arkansas, Colorado, Georgia, Hawaii, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Mississippi, Nevada, North Carolina, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Utah, Virginia, West Virginia, and Wyoming.
Said Interim Executive Director Dr. Gerry Wheeler, “There is no cause for optimism regarding the science results of the 2011 National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP). Overall, the results show miniscule gains in student achievement. The majority of our eighth-grade students still fall below the proficiency level… When you consider the importance of being scientifically literate in today’s global economy, these scores are simply unacceptable.”
Click here to read NSTA’s official statement regarding the science results of the 2011 National Assessment of Education Progress.