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New science standards future still uncertain
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Despite signing on to be a “leading partner” in 2011, Georgia has yet to pull the trigger on adopting a new set of science standards.

Based upon the National Research Council’s Framework for K-12 Science Education, the Next Generation Science Standards were finalized in April 2013. While Georgia was one of the 26 states to develop the standards, it has yet to adopt them and is not alone; only eight states and the District of Columbia have formally adopted them.

“At this point, I believe that the timeline may be on hold,” Sarah Bell said. Bell is the director of academic programs and standards for Gainesville City Schools. “We have not recently received further information about professional learning, which was supposed to be built into the plan for one to two years prior to adoption.” 

While the science standards are not part of Common Core, they were designed to correlate with the standards, with the website stating “science is a quantitative discipline, so it is important for educators to ensure that students’ science learning coheres with their learning in mathematics.” 

The website also states literary skills are important to understanding science terms, so the development team also worked with the Common Core team to “identify key literacy connections to the specific content demands outlined in the Next Generation Science Standards.” 

Common Core standards, which affect the English language arts and math, were adopted by the Georgia Board of Education in 2010. The standards were initiated by the Council of Chief State School Officers and the National Governors Association, co-chaired at that time by then-Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue.

More recently, Gov. Nathan Deal has voiced his support of the standards.

It’s not mandatory for a state to adopt Common Core, but the federal government created an incentive of tying adoption to earning a grant through the Race to the Top program, created in 2009 as part of the economic stimulus package.

There has been a backlash against Common Core, with a rally at the state Capitol planned Tuesday. Two Senate bills, 167 and 203, call for Georgia to withdraw from the standards.

“I would imagine that the state leaders may be waiting to see how the Common Core standards play out in the legislature this year (before adopting new science standards),” Bell said.

While it’s still up in the air as to what Georgia will do, the National Science Teachers Association has come out in support of the standards.

“It is based on the latest research about how students learn,” Executive Director David Evans said, saying it’s a better method of engaging students in science.

“We are optimistic that most states will come on board and adopt (the standards),” he added. “Regardless of formal adoption decisions, science teachers nationwide are already embracing the new standards.”

If the state does ultimately adopt the science standards, it will be a few years before they are fully in place. According to Bell, adoption takes a year or two for professional learning and full implementation.

“It’s a fairly long process,” she said. “As an example, (with Common Core), there were videos, webinars, face-to-face trainings, and resources were developed. The district typically decides how to use these offerings or chooses to provide its own professional development.”