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Dorn Adopts New Science Standards - Emphasis to be placed on engineering and technology


October 7, 2013

State Superintendent Randy Dorn adopted a new set of standards that will provide consistent science education through all grades, with an emphasis on engineering and technology.

The adoption of the Next Generation Science Standards was announced today by Gov. Jay Inslee and Supt. Dorn at a press conference at Cascade Middle School in Highline.

“Our classrooms are where Washington’s next generation of innovators and entrepreneurs get their start,” said Gov. Inslee. “These new standards will help educators cultivate students’ natural curiosity, push their creative boundaries and get kids excited about science and technology. This is a tremendous step forward for Washington’s students.”

The NGSS describe – at each grade from kindergarten through fifth grade, at Middle School and at High School – what each student should know in the four domains of science: physical science; life science; earth and space science; and engineering, technology and science application.

“We live in an increasingly complex world,” Dorn said. “And we will need solutions to some big problems, like conserving water and finding new sources of energy. A high-quality science education that starts in the early grades is the key to ensuring we solve those problems and creating a future full of possibilities. The NGSS will give our students the skills they need for success, whether they are college- or career-bound.”

Dorn noted that the new standards focus on student diversity and equity. The standards also build on each other, meaning that material students learn in one year impacts what they learn the next year. And integrating engineering and technology across all grades gives students a solid foundation in both areas.

The standards’ cross-discipline nature is a third benefit, Dorn said. When students are learning about science, they are also enhancing their skills in reading, writing and math. And the NGSS are aligned to the Common Core State Standards, which are being implemented in Washington schools this year.

The choice to make the announcement at Cascade Middle School was deliberate, said Patrick D’Amelio, CEO of Washington STEM. “Cascade is creating a promising model for how to equip Washington’s students with the strong science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) skills necessary to lead a life of opportunity in our state and the passion to apply them,” he said.

“We hope the adoption of the Next Generation Science Standards will help spread these vital innovations around the state.”

Steps to adoption in Washington

The adoption process was composed of four steps:

  1. A comparison of the new standards against the existing ones;
  2. A bias and sensitivity review, to ensure that the new standards aren’t culturally biased;
  3. Review and input from the public and a variety of stakeholders, such as the Education Opportunity Gap Oversight and Accountability Commission and the State Board of Education; and
  4. Time to let the state legislature understand the change in standards.

The process of implementing the standards will be similar to the one used for the Common Core State Standards. It will begin with building awareness, then building capacity in schools and districts. Full implementation is expected by the 2016-17 school year; students will be tested on the new standards beginning in 2017-18.

Washington is the eighth state to adopt the Next Generation Science Standards.


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