Science standards Maine helped develop are released

AUGUSTA – A new set of science standards that Maine took a leading role in helping to develop were released Tuesday evening. Earlier in the day, the State Board of Education was briefed on the Next Generation Science Standards by Anita Bernhardt, the Maine Department of Education science education specialist. The Board anticipates voting on adoption of the standards later this spring.

Maine is one of 26 states that led the development of the rigorous and internationally benchmarked K-12 academic standards, which define the science concepts and content students will need to learn to be successful in the workforce, economy and society of the coming decades. Because they have a strong focus on applying science information, the new standards will help students more readily engage in their learning.

“The NGSS bring together for the first time core science ideas, practices and concepts,” said Bernhardt. “One Maine educator recently said to me: ‘This is the science we have always wanted to teach!’ “

The creation of NGSS was state-driven, with no federal funds or incentives to create or adopt the standards. The process was funded by the Carnegie Corporation of New York, a leading philanthropy dedicated to improving science education in the U.S.  Based on the National Research Council’s Framework for K-12 Science Education, which was released in July 2011, the NGSS are grounded on a sound, evidence-based foundation of current scientific research—including research on the ways students learn science effectively—and identify the science all K–12 students should know.

Gov. Paul R. LePage, who has supported increased focus on science, technology, engineering and math education (commonly referred to as STEM) as a way to bolster work force development and Maine’s economy, said the new standards will support those efforts.

“Our goal is the preparation of students for college and/or careers,” LePage said. “We cannot do that with outdated standards. Not only must the information be up-to-date, so must the concepts and the way we teach them.”

Education Commissioner Stephen Bowen said his department will work to give teachers statewide the information they need to implement the new standards after their anticipated adoption.

Lead states worked with the National Research Council, the National Science Foundation, the National Science Teachers Association, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the National Governors Association, the Council of Chief State School Officers, the James B. Hunt, Jr. Institute for Educational Leadership and Policy, and the Council of State Science Supervisors to develop the standards and ensure they reflected the needs of educators, higher education institutions, and employers.

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