AAAS Endorses Proposed K-12 Science Standards, But Urges Stronger Focus on 'What Is and Isn’t Science'
The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), has endorsed draft national standards that would define what K-12 students should know about life, earth, and physical science by grades 4, 8 and 12.
AAAS CEO Alan I. Leshner urged the National Assessment Governing Board (NAGB), however, to add explicit language on the nature of science and to fine-tune student achievement-level descriptions.
“If U.S. students aren’t expected to know what is and is not science, they will have no basis for recognizing that, for example, intelligent design is not science, but rather, a religious viewpoint that has no place in a science classroom,” said Leshner, executive publisher of the journal Science.
“AAAS commends the Draft 2009 Science Framework of the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP),” Leshner added. “But, we strongly recommend that the nature of science should be more explicitly defined within the standards.”
Leshner testified 25 October during a public hearing of the National Assessment Governing Board in Washington, D.C. To read his testimony, click here.
The Draft Science Framework proposes achievement standards for the three grades tested in NAEP’s national and state-level assessments. It will guide the development of a new NAEP science assessment, beginning in 2009. The Draft is available on the Governing Board’s Web site, www.nagb.org.
Overall, “The science content standards included in the Draft represent an important and coherent set of ideas,” Leshner testified. “The science content standards are indeed powerful conceptual tools for explaining phenomena, making sense of media reports about advances in science, and making informed personal and social decisions on science-related issues.” As an example, he added, the topic of evolution is treated in a “clear and complete” manner within the proposed standards.
The Draft Science Framework makes use of, and is mostly consistent with, recommendations set forth by the Benchmarks for Science Literacy, published by Project 2061, AAAS’s science-literacy initiative; as well as the National Science Education Standards, Leshner said.
“However,” he said, “the Preliminary Achievement Level Descriptions included in Appendix C do not reflect the same level of effort as the science content standards,” and must be further tightened in order to define the basis for distinguishing between basic, proficient and advanced levels of performance. AAAS also recommended that NAEP assessments of students’ understanding should focus slightly more on identifying and using science principles, and slightly less on conducting scientific inquiry and employing technological design.
Most importantly, Leshner said, “Students should understand that science demands that claims be backed up with evidence, that credible explanations must be logically consistent with other science principles that are not in question, and that theories are judged by their ability to explain more than their rival theories and by their potential to lead to new knowledge.”
For more information on Project 2061, the science-literacy initiative at AAAS, see www.project2061.org.
Evolution-related resources from AAAS are online at www.aaas.org/news/press_room/evolution.
27 October 2005