Evidence Based Science Education

This blog will examine research and evidence as it relates to science education and science education issues. It is an attempt to bring together the science of education and the practice of education.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Grade level standards

One of the bigger changes in the draft standards for science for Colorado is the move to grade level standards grades K-8. In 2007 CDE commissioned WestEd to do a review of the Colorado State standards and compare them to other states and countries. As part of this review WestEd looked at who is doing grade level vs grade span standards and found that many high achieving states and countries such as Virginia and Finland specify their standards by grade level.

The State School Board, based on WestEds review and on advice from the Stakeholders Group on Standards, charged the various standards development subcommittees to write grade level standards P – 8 that reflect mastery. It was the decision of sub-committee to let the age and development level appropriateness of the topics dictate where they were placed in the P – 8 standards instead of forcing a grade level placement through themes or connections. This decision was made because it was right for the content and because the idea of making grade level themes or even having life, Earth, and physical at different grade levels seemed to move more into curriculum than being true to the developmental appropriateness of the content.

The draft content standards are designed to show when students should master a concept in science and therefore be ready to progress toward understanding the Prepared Graduate Competencies, in this way they were designed to be a teaching progression and not a mandate for what is taught at each grade, which is the job of curriculum developers.

As we move out of the standards development phase and into the standards implementation phase, we are now looking for the connections between those standards that will help teachers when implementing them.