Standards-Based Science Teaching - So, Your State is Ready to Adopt New Benchmarks, GLEs, and Materials?

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Monday, 18 January 2010
Paul Ruscher, Florida State Univ., Tallahassee, FL

Florida recently underwent a rather trying experience of adopting new K-12 science standards and grade level expectations (GLE). The entire process nearly became sidetracked by controversies related to Life Science standards and adoption (finally) of evolution as a cornerstone foundational theory of modern biology. Earth science standards were adopted to elevate them to the same level as life and physical sciences, and yet Florida is woefully unprepared to provide adequate support for the teaching of earth science in the way that most educators and scientists would suggest.

So - what is one to do? Here we present our experiences and ongoing strategies for coping with an inadequately funded K-12 (and college) educational system, a Legislature that is very "hands-on", and a body of teachers that are probably very well-trained in biology, but mostly not well trained in other relevant subjects, and a process that is bogged down with non-scientific interference and practical budget limitations. Resistance from the traditional education community, which is quite strongly oriented towards geology topics, is also discussed.

The change in emphasis, which draws distinctions between weather and climate for once, and adds importance to water and ocean systems, is critical for Florida and national goals related to climate and energy policy, at least, and has been well-received by teachers (conceptually). Whether it succeeds as it becomes adopted in 2010 remains open for discussion.