Wednesday, December 07, 2005

The state of science standards

The Thomas B. Fordham Foundation presents The State of State Science Standards 2005. Overall, not much better than in 2000, the last time they did this.

The standards they reviewed in Kansas are the ones currently in place, not the ones the Board has approved (and is rewriting to excise copyrighted material). For these existing standards, Kansas got a C, though even that was with trepidation.

In reviewing the current standards, the reviewers write:

Its greatest strength is in the handling of life sciences, especially evolution. There the work starts early, makes practical additions in successive grades, and culminates in high school with a solid treatment of evolutionary thought in modern biology. We would have liked, however, to see more of the molecular biology relevant to evolution and development, since it lies at the heart of so much else in biology today.
The report on Kansas ends with a:
Note added In Proof: The early warnings have been justified. Kansas has adopted standards whose treatment of evolutionary material has been radically compromised. The effect transcends evolution, however. It now makes a mockery of the very definition of science. The grade for Kansas is accordingly reduced to “F.”
Before that revision, the rating of the evolution content in the Kansas standards was a perfect 3/3.

I imagine that a review of the standards approved by the standards writing committee would have scored well. It was a good document.