+ Proposed New Approach for Science Curriculums

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An article by Kenneth Chang tells about a new framework for improving American science education.

The new approach suggests paring the curriculum to focus on core ideas.  It would teach students more about how to approach and solve problems — rather than just memorizing facts.

An 18-member committee spent more than a year devising the framework and was led by Helen Quinn, retired physicist from SLAC National Accelerator laboratory in Menlo Park, CA.

According to Quinn, “That is the failing of US education today, that kids are expected to learn a lot of things but not expected to be able to use them.”


The 282-page report says that one of the big goals  is “to ensure that by the end of 12th grade, all students have some appreciation of the beauty and wonder of science.”

An additional goal is to incorporate engineering into what is taught to students from elementary grades through the final year of high school.

The National Research Council released the report on July 19th.

 American students have typically  ranked in the middle on international comparison tests.  This report offers just the latest of several decades worth of efforts.

Now that the National Research Council has established a framework, Achieve Inc., a nonprofit education group, will expand it into a set of standards.  Similar standards for math and language arts have already been adopted by 44 states.

As Achieve works with states to develop standards, the core science — including evolution — is not up for debate.  Says Michael Cohen, “What we’re not going to do is compromise the science just to get states comfortable.” 

Every state will have the final say on whether to adopt the new approach.

The $2.26 million effort was financed largely by the Carnegie Corporation of New York.  Also participating was the National Science Teachers Association for the Advancement of Science.

sole source: Kenneth Chang’s article in the New York Times.  http://www.nytimes.com/2011/07/20/science/20curriculum.html?_r=1&scp=2&sq=Kenneth%20chang&st=cse

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