The Utah Board of Education received a first draft Thursday of the state’s new science education standards for grades 6-8. But they won’t be implemented for another three years.
Utah’s science education standards haven’t changed in a decade, says Sarah Young, who was the K-12 science specialist with the Utah State Office of Education during the formation of the draft standards. Young says a lot has happened in the world of science in the last ten years, and that will be reflected in the new standards, including an increased focus on engineering and real-world applications.
“I think there are a lot of opportunities where we are teaching science content but our students don’t have a very clear vision as to how that’s applied in the world around them,” Young says.
Teachers will get a full school year of professional development to learn the new standards followed by a one-year pilot program. It won’t be until 2018 that students will be tested on the standards. Young says the lengthy timeline was deliberate, pointing to the confusion and tension that surrounded the implementation of the Common Core English language and math standards.
“There was pretty clear feedback from the community about their comfort level as well as what they felt their capacity was to be able to enact such large scale changes in such a short period of time,” Young says.
The draft will be released to the public in February for a 90-day review and the state board will likely approve the standards next fall.