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Plan maps out science standards implementation in Iowa

Friday, January 22, 2016

Iowa’s new science standards will be put in place over the course of the next three years, with full implementation by 2019.

The Iowa State Board of Education reviewed the implementation timeline during its January meeting; board members approved the new standards last August based on a recommendation from an Iowa review team.

The standards identify science and engineering practices and content that all students in kindergarten through 12th grade should master in order to prepare for success in college and 21st century careers. The standards are not a curriculum; they articulate what students need to know and be able to do. Districts, schools and teachers will determine their own curriculum, including what is taught and how it is taught.

Iowa’s new science standards are based on the Next Generation Science Standards, which all states can consider adopting and adapting to meet their needs. The standards were developed by 26 states, including Iowa, with a vision for quality science education for all students, not just a select few.

The standards were created to meet the needs of the 21st century, where a deeper understanding of science will keep the United States competitive in a global economy.

Iowa’s implementation plan includes the current school year, in which districts are charged with developing a professional development plan to ensure all educators receive the training they need. By the 2018-19 school year, districts should have the science standards in place in the classroom.

The science standards reflect a change in both expectations and teaching practices. They allow students to think of science learning not as memorization of disconnected facts, but as a holistic understanding of integrated and interrelated concepts. Teaching practices are expected to connect scientific principles to real-world situations, allowing for more engaging and relevant instruction that clearly covers complicated topics. The science standards also build off one another from grade to grade.

All content is progressive. As such, no one lesson will likely fully meet a standard. However, every lesson should be building toward a student’s mastery of one or more standards.

The implementation plan outlines specific steps districts must take to ensure their science teachers are fully trained and confident in incorporating the standards into everyday classroom instruction.

Read the Iowa Science Standards Implementation Plan.