No action on science ed standards

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The Senate Education committee took no action on the temporary science education standards in a public hearing Wednesday.

Before it received pubic testimony on the standards, the committee heard from a rules administrator on what would happen if it took action.

Administrative Rules Coordinator at the Department of Administration, Dennis Stevenson said that since the standards were adopted as a pending rule three years ago, it will be approved unless action is taken to stop it. He furthered that a concurrent resolution must be approved by both the House and Senate chambers to alter or stop the rules’ implementation as written by the State Board of Education.

Last week, the Idaho House Education committee partially adopted the science standards. A motion from Rep. Scott Syme, R-Caldwell, removed one section on climate change and earth science and removed all supporting content in the science standards. All other standards were approved.

In all the public hearings at the House and the Senate panels, there was broad public support for adopting the standards.

Members of the committee that developed the standards said Wednesday the supporting content standards provide guidance to teachers on how to make decisions on curriculum.

“That supporting content tells teachers what they need to teach students to prepare to perform to that standard. There’s a wealth of information of supporting content and without that in there, I feel it would be very broad and it will burden our teachers to interpret those…,” said Charles Taylor, the science and social studies supervisor for Boise School District. “The supporting content standards are huge for teachers, especially for elementary teachers who don’t have that background in science.”

Taylor served on the committee that recommended the standards. Another member of the committee, who has served on it for roughly 15 years, also spoke at the public hearing.

“The first goal of the supporting content was that it provides local, relevant examples that teachers could use. And if you look in the supporting content, there is the word could… these are simply a choice for teachers,” said Angela Hemingway, executive director of the STEM Action Center.

Wednesday was the only day of public testimony for the Senate panel. It will vote on adopting the standards at an undetermined date.

Kyle Pfannenstiel covers the 2018 Idaho Legislature for the University of Idaho McClure Center for Public Policy Research.

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