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The Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education

Proposed Revised Science and Technology/Engineering Standards - Continuing Discussion

To:
Members of the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education
From:
Mitchell D. Chester, Ed.D., Commissioner
Date:
September 11, 2015

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At the meeting of the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education on September 22, 2015, we will discuss edits made to the draft revised Science and Technology/Engineering (STE) Standards based on input provided at the May 19, 2015 Board discussion on the standards. The draft revised standards are enclosed. I anticipate asking the Board to vote to solicit public comment at the October Board meeting and adopt the final version of the STE Curriculum Framework in January 2016.

Background

State law directs the Board to adopt and periodically update curriculum frameworks in the various academic disciplines. The Board originally adopted and published the Science and Technology Framework in 1996. The current framework reflects a full revision in 2001 and a "minor revision" of the high school standards in 2006. The full set of STE standards has not been updated in 15 years.

The draft revised STE standards maintain much of the content of the current standards with updates to reflect changes identified by the field, changes to the content of science and engineering over the past 15 years, and the addition of inquiry and design skills that students need to successfully engage in this discipline. The draft revised standards strengthen the often-lauded science standards Massachusetts has relied on since 2001.

The Department's revision process began in 2009 and included 67 representatives from across the state to assist in the development of these standards for Massachusetts. Numerous other educators have provided input during the development process and since December 2013, when an early draft was posted for an extended period of review over the 2013-14 and 2014-15 school years.

Edits made to the Standards after May 19, 2015

Department staff made edits to the draft revised standards based on Board input, including:

  • reviewed the current STE standards to ensure key content is represented in the draft revised STE standards and confirmed decisions regarding what was omitted or added;
  • made edits to clarify content that was not explicit, including moving some content from one grade span to another to maintain alignment with current standards;
  • adjusted the tone of the document by removing language such as "rote memorization" and reframing assessment boundaries to emphasize their application to state assessment;
  • edited verbs used in some standards to ensure every standard is performance-based;
  • added examples of science and engineering practices at each grade span or high school course to illustrate specific skills the standards expect of students; and
  • added text to clarify the importance of vocabulary in science.

Key Features of the Draft Revised Standards

To prepare students for success in college, careers, and civic life, the STE standards are intended to drive coherent, ambitious, instruction that emphasizes both student mastery disciplinary core ideas and application of science and engineering practices. In particular, these standards:

  • focus on conceptual understanding and application of concepts;
  • integrate disciplinary core ideas and practices to reflect the discipline of science;
  • contribute to preparation for post-secondary success in college and careers;
  • present coherent progressions of STE core ideas and practices from Pre-K to high school;
  • include each discipline in grade-level standards Pre-K to grade 8; and
  • coordinate with the English Language Arts (ELA) and Mathematics standards.

Next Steps

Based on the September discussion, we will incorporate further refinements as appropriate. We plan to ask the Board to vote to solicit public comment at the October Board meeting. We will then collect public input through November and December, using a state-wide survey and hosting regional sessions for district staff and focus groups for targeted audiences, such as higher education faculty. We will reconvene the STE Review Panel in mid-November and make necessary edits. I will bring the final revised STE standards to the Board for an adoption vote in January. At that time, we will also have the full STE Curriculum Framework for your review and I will present an implementation plan that includes a timeline for transitioning the STE MCAS tests. Senior Associate Commissioner Brooke Clenchy and other members of the Department who have been engaged in this work will be at the Board meeting to answer your questions.

Attachment:

Download PDF Document  Download Word Document
Draft Revised Massachusetts Science and Technology/Engineering Standards


Last Updated: September 16, 2015
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