STEM Education News
May 17, 2012
In This Issue:
- Next Generation Science Standards Draft Available Now for Public Comment
- NAEP Results: Modest Gains in Eighth Grade Science Scores
- Student Spaceflight Experiments Program (SSEP) Seeks Communities to Participate and Students to Design Experiments
- Rep. Johnson Introduces Legislation to Broaden Participation in STEM Education
- Rep. Fudge Introduces the Project Ready STEM Act of 2012
Next Generation Science Standards Draft Available Now for Public Comment
The first draft of the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) is now available online for public review and input. The draft was released last Friday, May 11 for a three week review period that will close on June 1. Triangle Coalition members and all stakeholders in STEM education are encouraged to carefully review the draft and submit comments online to Achieve during this comment period.
The Next Generation Science Standards are based on the National Research Council (NRC) Framework for K–12 Science Education, which describes the major practices, crosscutting concepts, and disciplinary core ideas that all students should be familiar with by the end of high school. Each standard outlines three dimensions that provide students with a context for the content, how the science knowledge is acquired and understood, and how the sciences are connected. They are designed to provide clarification to all users by also including connections across standards, as well as to other grade levels and subjects.
The NGSS integrate technology and engineering into the science education structure by raising engineering design to the same level as science inquiry in classroom instruction, and by granting core ideas of engineering and technology the same status as core ideas in the other major science disciplines. The rationale of this emphasis is both inspirational and practical; acknowledging the importance of technology and engineering in solving problems, and also providing students opportunities to deepen their understanding by applying the knowledge of science to their everyday lives.
In partnership with the NRC, National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) (a Triangle Coalition member), and the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), the non-profit organization, Achieve, is managing a 26 state-led process to develop the standards. This is the first of two drafts that are to be released for public comment during the NGSS development process. The final completion of the NGSS is expected by the end of 2012 or early 2013.
To read the standards, visit www.nextgenscience.org. NSTA also has a variety of free resources available online to assist people reviewing the standards, including webinars, a booklet on organizing group discussions on the NGSS draft, and a reader’s guide to the Framework for K-12 Science Education.
Triangle Coalition is interested in hearing the reaction from members who are reviewing and providing feedback on the standards. To share your comments on the NGSS with Triangle Coalition, please email STEMeducation@triangle-coalition.org.
NAEP Results: Modest Gains in Eighth Grade Science Scores
The 2011 National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) results revealed the average eighth grade science score increased over the last two years, from 150 in 2009 to 152 in 2011. The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) released the scores on Thursday, May 10, in the 2011 Nation’s Report Card. Scores rose among public school students in 16 of 47 states that participated in both 2009 and 2011, and no state showed a decline in science scores from 2009 to 2011.
While the percentage of students performing at the Basic and Proficient levels increased, there was no change in the percentage of students at the Advanced level. In response to this finding, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said in a statement, “This tells me that we need to work harder and faster to build capacity in schools and in districts across the country. We have to do things differently, that’s why education reform is so critical.”
Compared to the 2009 scores, the achievement gap narrowed slightly among both Hispanic students and black students in 2011, with the groups improving average scores by five points and three points, respectively. However, the gender achievement gap remains unchanged with male students scoring an average of five points higher than female students in 2011.
“The gains are encouraging, but the racial and gender gaps show a cause for concern,” said David Driscoll, chair of the National Assessment Governing Board, which sets policy for NAEP. “In order to compete in globally competitive and expanding fields like technology and medicine, we must make sure we give our students the tools necessary to excel in an important subject area.”
The income-level achievement gap also persists from previous years with students from higher-income families continuing to perform better than those from lower-income families.
Students in classes with higher frequencies of hands-on science projects also scored higher on the NAEP assessment than students who did not often participate in such activities. Two percent of students had teachers who said they never or hardly ever had students perform hands-on tasks, and these students had the lowest average score.
In a study to be released in late 2012, the NAEP Science 2011 results will be compared to those of the 2011 Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS). The study will also include the results of the NAEP eighth grade mathematics assessment to allow for international comparison in both subjects.
The 2011 NAEP Science results are based on a representative sample of 122,000 public and private school eighth grade students from all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and the Department of Defense Schools. This was the first time all 50 states and the District of Columbia agreed to participate in the NAEP science assessment. To learn more about the NAEP Assessments and the 2011 Science results, visit www.nagb.org/science2011 or www.nationsreportcard.gov.
One-page, individual reports are also available for each of the 50 states, the District of Columbia, and the Department of Defense Schools. Each state snapshot report contains the overall scale score and achievement-level results, as well as student group results. Individual state reports can be accessed here.
Student Spaceflight Experiments Program (SSEP) Seeks Communities to Participate and Students to Design Experiments
Students across the U. S. and internationally can compete for the opportunity to send their microgravity science experiments to the International Space Station (ISS) on the fifth flight of the Student Spaceflight Experiments Program (SSEP). Launched in June 2010, SSEP immerses typically 300 students in real scientific research of their own design, using a highly captivating spaceflight opportunity aboard the International Space Station (ISS).
Each participating community will have the opportunity to fly a single microgravity experiment in a real research mini-laboratory to the ISS in early April 2013. Participating communities will solicit proposals for experiments from their students to determine which student research team will get to use the mini-lab to fly their experiment to the ISS. The SSEP program engages the entire community in the experience by embracing a Learning Community Model for STEM education.
SSEP is open to schools and districts serving 5-12 grade students, colleges and universities, informal science education organizations, and internationally through the Center’s new Arthur C. Clarke Institute for Space Education.
“SSEP is designed to empower the student as a scientist, and within the real-world context of science. Student teams design a real experiment, propose for a real flight opportunity, experience a formal proposal review process, and go through a NASA flight safety review. They even have their own science conference at the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum, where they are immersed in their own community of researchers,” said Dr. Jeff Goldstein, creator of SSEP and NCESSE Director. “SSEP is about introducing real science to our children, and if you give them a chance to be scientists, stand back and be amazed.”
To participate in SSEP Mission 3 to ISS, communities must sign-up by September 12, 2012. The experiment design competition runs from September 17 through November 9, 2012. Flight experiments are then selected by December 7, 2012 for a ferry flight to ISS in early April 2013.
Scheduled for flight this weekend, May 19, on SpaceX’s Dragon, the third SSEP flight Mission 1 will fly 15 student experiments to the ISS. These experiments were selected out of 779 student team proposals. The Mission 2 experiments payload is slated to fly to ISS in Fall 2012.
SSEP is the first pre-college STEM education program that is both a U.S. national initiative and implemented as an on-orbit commercial space venture. SSEP is undertaken by the National Center for Earth and Space Science Education (NCESSE) in partnership with NanoRacks LLC, which is working in partnership with NASA under a Space Act Agreement as part of the utilization of the International Space Station as a National Laboratory.
For information on the Mission 3 to ISS flight opportunity, visit: http://ssep.ncesse.org.