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Idaho raising science standards for K-12 grades

The House Education Committee proposed a slate of new science standards, which is something that sparked controversy last year.

In 2016, the State Department of Education was supposed to make a draft and go to hearings all over the state.

For public input, however, the legislature did not think the department did a thorough job of gathering it from different communities in the state

Representative Ryan Kerby, of the Idaho Education Committee, said one example of the department not doing a good job was a tape recorder being sent and not actual people to get feedback from communities.

Because of this, there was an uproar from people around the state.

This year, the science committee made an improvement in reaching out to the communities, according to Ryan Kerby. The committee has modified standards based on this input.

The State Department of Education states that science is a “practice dynamic in nature”.

Since the standards were adopted in 2001, there have been a lot of advancements in science and technology and the department believes an update is very necessary.

Kerby explains that the new science standards are more hands on for the students.

“More experimentation, more scientific method, where they make observations, propose a hypothesis and so forth. A lot more critical thinking,” Kerby said.

He continued to explain that during the input session, the public was upset with different things, in regards to the science standards, like global warming.

“Some people in Idaho believe that’s because of human factors and some people think it’s not a human effect and some people don’t think it’s an effect at all. So, what we were hearing from our constituents was there was too much emphasis on the human factors and they wanted a more balanced approach,” Kerby said.

Last year, when the rules were rejected the State Department of Education had to reconvene the committee.

Since the new deadline was not met, the science standard became a temporary rule. That is what most school districts are using right now.

“For a permanent rule, it would be next year.So, they basically are bringing these here. You know, is this something that the legislature would approve,” Kerby said.

It is more student-centered now, he said.

So, how are the new science standards different from the old science standards?

The old science standards gave work to students like comparing and contrasting, asking students to describe what they see, fact memorization and labeling diagrams.

The new science standards require to find and analyze data, figuring out where numbers derive: for example, looking at fossil records to find out how old the earth is, instead of being told how old the earth is.

Standards for other subjects like math and reading are also increasing.

It takes two years to go through the whole process, but the science committee tried to get it done quicker, which is why the science standards are still going through a temporary process.

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