Science and Technology/Engineering
Letter from the Commissioner
I am pleased to present to you the 2001 Massachusetts Science and Technology/Engineering Curriculum Framework. This framework presents the revised statewide guidelines for learning, teaching, and assessment in science and technology/engineering for the Commonwealth's public schools. Based on scholarship, sound research, and effective practice, the framework will enable teachers and administrators to strengthen curriculum and instruction from prekindergarten through grade 12.
I am proud of the work that has been accomplished. The comments and suggestions received on the 1995 Science and Technology Curriculum Framework, as well as on working drafts of this version, have strengthened this framework. The major changes from the 1995 framework to the May 2001 document include the following:
- Standards are more specific, to enable teachers to design instruction and assessment more effectively. Grade spans have narrowed from PreK-4, 5-8, 9-10 to PreK-2, 3-5, 6-8, 9-10.
- The four strands in the 1995 document (Inquiry, Domains of Science, Technology and Science, and Technology and Human Affairs) are now four content strands (Earth and Space Science, Life Science, Physical Sciences, and Technology/ Engineering). "Inquiry" is now to be taught with the content of each domain of science.
- High school standards: The 2001 framework has a set of standards for comprehensive, full year courses in each of the four science domains, and in Technology/ Engineering. In each domain, a subset of these standards has been identified as core. Only core standards will be assessed by MCAS. In addition, a set of core standards has been identified for a two-year, grade 9 and 10 integrated science program. These standards are a subset of the core standards from each of the four science domains.
- Format: The revised document has a three-column grid for grades PreK-5 that shows the topic and the Learning Standards, Ideas for Developing Investigations and Learning Experiences, and Suggested Extensions to Learning in Technology/Engineering.
- A glossary was added for selected terms and a topical outline was included.
From December 2000 to May 2001 the framework underwent an intensive review for scientific and technological accuracy. The wording was revised and specific examples were added to help clarify the learning standards. Changes at this final stage of review include the following:
- For grades PreK-2, students' sense of geologic time is strengthened in the earth science strand with the standard "Recognize that fossils provide us with information about living things that inhabited the earth years ago."
- Life science standards in the lower and middle grades were strengthened and made more specific to develop concepts of evolution, including adaptation, heredity, and comparison of organisms.
- Based on significant feedback from teachers, the focus on plants and animals in grades 6-8 was extended to include a standard that specified the human organism as a set of systems that interact with each other.
- The description of the taxonomic system was sharpened by including in the standards for grades 6-8 the classification of organisms into "the currently recognized kingdoms."
- At the high school level, we recognized the growing importance of molecular biology by adding the standard asking students to "Describe the processes of replication, transcription, and translation and how they relate to each other in molecular biology."
- In the physics standards, plasma was specified as the fourth state of matter.
We will continue to work with schools and districts to implement the 2001 Science and Technology/Engineering Curriculum Framework over the next several years, and we encourage you to send us your comments as you use it. All of the curriculum frameworks are subject to continuous review and improvement for the benefit of the students of the Commonwealth.
Thank you again for your ongoing support and for your commitment to achieving the goals of education reform.
David P. Driscoll
Commissioner of Education