Proposed national standards for science education were unveiled Tuesday, and include recommendations for teaching evolution, as well as the first-ever expectations for students to learn about climate change.
Known as the Next Generation Science Standards, the recommendations come from a coalition of educators and policymakers. So far 26 states have pledged to consider using the new standards, which, according to the coalition's website, contend that science education "should reflect the interconnected nature of science as it is practiced and experienced in the real world." Students will be expected to know how to apply scientific principles, weigh evidence, solve problems and explain their reasoning, and tackle increasingly complex subject matter as they progress from grade to grade. The new science standards are aligned to the separate Common Core State Standards that have been adopted by 46 states.
"This is a huge deal," David L. Evans, the executive director of the National Science Teachers Association, told the New York Times. "We depend on science in so many aspects of our lives. There's a strong feeling that we need to help people understand the nature of science itself, as an intellectual pursuit."
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Under the new science standards, students would begin learning about climate change in middle school. As the New York Times story points out, some conservative and religious groups are challenging that inclusion, along with the teaching of evolution.