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Science and Technology/Engineering
Curriculum Framework - Spring 2001


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The Massachusetts Science and Technology/Engineering Curriculum Framework is one of seven curriculum frameworks that advance Massachusetts's educational reform in learning, teaching, and assessment. It was created and has been revised by teachers and administrators of science and technology/engineering programs in prekindergarten through grade 12 school districts, by college and university professors, and by engineers and scientists in the various domains working with staff from the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. Its purpose is to guide teachers and curriculum coordinators about what content should be taught from PreK through high school.

Organization of the document

The guiding principles present a set of tenets about effective PreK-12 programs and instruction in science and technology/engineering. These principles articulate ideals of teaching, learning, assessing, and administering science and technology/engineering programs in Massachusetts. They show how educators may create educational environments characterized by curiosity, persistence, respect for evidence, open-mindedness balanced with skepticism, and a sense of responsibility.

The strands organize the content areas into earth and space science, life science (biology), the physical sciences (physics and chemistry), and technology/engineering. Each strand details the essential knowledge and skills that students should acquire through the grades. The learning standards within each strand are organized by grade span and grouped by subject area topics. Following the topics at the high school level are broad concepts to which the learning standards are related. The standards outline specifically what students should know and be able to do at the end of each grade span.

For grades PreK-5, the standards are accompanied by ideas for developing investigations and learning experiences in science and by extensions to learning in technology/engineering. These latter activities are coded to the PreK-5 technology/engineering standards. Additional activities to enhance the PreK-8 learning standards are found in Appendix III.

For grades 6-8, the science standards are accompanied by examples of sound sciencebased learning experiences. There are no extensions to technology/engineering associated with the science learning standards at this level because technology education is configured as a separate course in grades 6-8. Examples of learning activities for standards in the technology/engineering strand are included with the technology/engineering standards.

For grade 9 and higher, learning standards are listed for full first-year courses in earth and space science, biology, physics, chemistry, and technology/engineering. Core standards are in boldface type in each set of standards. From each set of core standards in the four sciences, a subset has been chosen for a two-year integrated science sequence in grades 9 and 10 (shown in Appendix II).

At the high school level, the Department will provide discipline-specific assessment options based on the core standards in earth and space science, biology, chemistry, physics, and technology/engineering. The Department will also offer an assessment for the two-year integrated science course sequence in grades 9 and 10 based on the subset of standards chosen for it. Districts will decide what assessment options to provide their students based on the courses they offer in grade 9 and higher.

Development of the standards

This framework derives from two reform initiatives in Massachusetts, the Education Reform Act of 1993 and Partnerships Advancing the Learning of Mathematics and Science (PALMS). Since 1992, the PALMS Statewide Systemic Initiative has been funded by the National Science Foundation in partnership with the state and the Noyce Foundation. Of the seven initial goals for this initiative, the first was to develop, disseminate, and implement curriculum frameworks in mathematics and in science and technology. The initial science and technology framework was approved in 1995, and was implemented in the field.

Because the Education Reform Act required that frameworks be reviewed and revised periodically, a revision panel was appointed by the Commissioner and the Board of Education in the summer of 1998. The panel examined the standards in the original framework, reviewed comments on them from the field, and reassessed their appropriateness in order to work out a more coherent organization of concepts and skills through the grade levels. The panel referred to the Benchmarks for Science Literacy-Project 2061, data from the Third International Mathematics and Science Study, the National Research Council's National Science Education Standards, the Technology for All Americans Project, results from the 1998 administration of the MCAS, and advances in science and technology/engineering.

The draft produced by the revision panel was released for public comment in August 1999. Based on comments on this draft from science and technology/engineering teachers and other educators, further revisions were made, particularly at the high school level. Groups of high school science teachers in each domain of science developed a comprehensive set of standards for a course in each domain from which core standards were chosen for discipline specific assessments. Groups of technology/engineering educators also contributed to the development of a comprehensive set of standards and core standards for the technology/engineering course at the high school level.

Last Updated: May 1, 2001
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