The Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education
Adoption of 2016 Science and Technology/Engineering Standards
Members of the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education
Mitchell D. Chester, Ed.D., Commissioner
January 15, 2016
At the meeting of the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education on January 26, 2016, I will ask the Board to vote to adopt the 2016 Science and Technology/Engineering (STE) Standards. This request follows additional revisions that the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education has made to the standards based on public comment gathered from October through December 2015.
Survey to Solicit and Collect Public Comment
The Board voted to solicit public comment on the revised STE standards in October 2015. The Department then distributed a survey for all interested parties to submit public comment, which opened on October 21, 2015 and closed on November 20, 2015. The survey asked about each standard and the broad goals related to the design of the standards. Along with the survey, the Department also accepted email submissions from mid-October through late December, 2015. The Department received 421 responses from individuals and groups of educators via survey and email submissions.
Summary of Public Input
Survey participants indicated that key goals had been achieved in the revised STE standards:
- Ninety percent of Pre-K-12 respondents indicated that the revised standards reflect necessary knowledge and skills that will lead to students being scientifically literate
- Eighty-nine percent of respondents affiliated with high schools indicated that the revised standards reflect necessary knowledge and skills that will lead to students' readiness for postsecondary college and career opportunities
- Ninety percent of all respondents indicated that the revised standards focus on conceptual understanding and application to help students engage with and explain the world
- Seventy-nine percent of all respondents indicated that the revised standards effectively integrate science and engineering practices with core ideas
- Eighty-five percent of all respondents indicated that the revised standards are a reasonable expectation for the grade level for which they are written
Multiple comments were provided about certain areas to edit, including:
- The lack of engineering at grade 5
- Progression of standards related to plate tectonics in middle school
- Genetics concepts in high school biology (e.g., inheritance, variation, and traits)
- The scope of grade 7 and high school chemistry (too much in each)
Individual comments were provided on a number of specific standards as well that improved clarity, technical accuracy, and grammar, and led to the addition of examples or clarification statements to provide more guidance on what is, or is not, intended in specific standards.
Higher Education Faculty Review
The Department of Higher Education and the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education convened higher education faculty representing science and engineering disciplines to review the revised STE standards to evaluate how well the standards prepare students for success in introductory college courses. Key outcomes included:
- Participants agreed that students successfully completing a high school course in a particular subject meeting these standards would be prepared to be successful in a corresponding introductory college course
- Participants overall agreed that students successfully completing three high school science or engineering courses in subjects other than the subject taught by the faculty member (e.g., a physics professor commenting on a student who successfully completed three high school STE courses other than physics) would be prepared to be successful in an introductory college course taught by the faculty member (e.g., introductory physics) provided the science and engineering practices (representing critical/analytical thinking) are well developed
- Participants valued the integration of disciplinary core ideas with science and engineering practices
- Participants emphasized the need to attend to relevance and application of content to real-world needs and problems to encourage student interest and motivation
Revisions Made Based on Public Comment
The edits made to the October 2015 public comment version of the STE standards are not a substantive change to the overall set, but rather refine and clarify particular standards. Edits can be categorized as:
- Content reductions: edits that removed a concept from the standards that was not deemed critical for post-secondary success and to reduce the overall scope of the standards
- Content additions: edits that added an important concept that was missing
- Reduction in number of standards by merging related concepts: edits to bring together related concepts that had been in separate standards
- Movement of standards across grades (or high school courses): edits that moved standards (or specific concepts) to a different grade to enhance progression of concepts, distribute standards more evenly, or make them more appropriate for the grade
Please see the attachments for additional details on the public comment, the higher education review, actions taken to refine the standards, and particular edits that we made. Board members were also provided with access to the entire set of public comments via email.
Anticipated Next Steps
The Board of Early Education and Care (EEC) is scheduled to vote to adopt the Pre-Kindergarten STE standards on February 9, 2016. The Pre-K standards are included in the full set of STE standards for the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education. EEC has been a key partner with our department in developing the Pre-K standards.
Assuming the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education votes to adopt the 2016 STE Standards, the Department will then copyedit the full 2016 Massachusetts Science and Technology/Engineering Curriculum Framework. The Framework includes the standards and a variety of additional guidance and supporting materials. (A draft of the full Framework is included among the attachments for your information.) We expect to publish and post the completed 2016 STE Curriculum Framework in early spring 2016. At that point, the Department will distribute copies to the Joint Committee on Education for their information, and to schools and other interested parties for their use in improving curriculum, instruction, and assessment in science and technology/engineering starting in the 2016-17 school year.
Revision of the STE MCAS assessments, starting with grades 5 and 8, will begin on a timeline consistent with the implementation of the next-generation Next-Generation MCAS assessments. High school STE MCAS assessments will be revised later on a timetable that provides fair notice to students and schools with respect to the science testing component of the state's Competency Determination (high school graduation) requirement.
The Department's plan for providing STE implementation support to schools is already underway. We have created a cadre of 40 Science Ambassadors - educators, administrators, and higher education faculty - who will engage educators across the state to understand the 2016 STE standards and their implications for curriculum and instruction. Science Ambassadors are already working with some districts and will become more active once a formal announcement of their availability is made following the Board's adoption of the STE standards. Districts and event organizers can request an Ambassador by e-mailing email@example.com. Additionally, the Department will be bringing together districts on a regional basis to support collaboration on implementation planning and sharing of resources. The Department also has a professional development (PD) grant initiative that will expand this year using federal Title IIB funds, to engage PD providers and offer opportunities for STE educators to learn about the 2016 STE standards and use them effectively with students.
The Department thanks all individuals and groups that provided input, reviewed comments, and suggested edits to the standards, and all the people who contributed to the various sections of the Framework. This effort included the voices of many representatives from across the state. We are grateful for the dedication and expertise of all the educators, scientists, scholars, and other participants who engaged with the Department in this endeavor. A particular thank you is due to the STE Review Panel members who volunteered their time over the past six years to complete this work.
Senior Associate Commissioner Brooke Clenchy and STEM Director Jacob Foster will be at the Board meeting on January 26 to answer any questions you may have.
Summary of Public Comment and Actions Taken to Edit the Revised Science and Technology/Engineering Standards
Summary of the Higher Education Faculty Reviewers Meeting for the Revised Science and Technology/Engineering Standards
Tracked Changes Version of the Massachusetts Science and Technology/Engineering Standards Based on Public Comment from October to December 2015
2016 Massachusetts Science and Technology/Engineering Standards for Adoption
Draft of the 2016 Massachusetts Science and Technology/Engineering Curriculum Framework