Louisiana's public school science standards, which are the third oldest in the nation, are headed for a major overhaul after a state panel Monday approved sweeping new benchmarks.
"So much more 21st century," Cathi Cox-Boniol, chairwoman of the study group said of the heavily revised guidelines.
A state panel Wednesday began reviewing science standards used in public schools, which have…
The new standards were approved during a meeting in New Orleans after six months of study, including 17 gatherings of work groups that grappled with the details.
The recommendations are scheduled to be voted on by the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education when it meets March 7-8.
Kathy Edmonston, a BESE member who lives in Gonzales, attended the meeting and praised the recommendations. "We are going to listen to you because you have done such a great job," Edmonston told the group, which is called the Science Standards Review Committee.
Louisiana's top school board Tuesday approved 85 educators and others to review the state's …
The state last changed its science benchmarks in 1997.
Only New Mexico and Wisconsin use older standards.
In addition, students in Louisiana ranked 45th in the U. S. in science assessments, according to the most recent results of the nation's report card.
Cox-Boniol, an educator in Lincoln Parish who taught high school science for 17 years, said the new standards will provide students with a deeper knowledge of the subject.
"We are going from discrete statements to multi-dimensional standards that help move us away from a mile wide, inch deep (approach)," she said.
"It is a huge step from memorizing a fact, taking a test and moving on," Cox-Boniol said. "It is a huge paradigm shift, basically."
After the meeting, Edmonston said she wants to ensure that teachers have the freedom to pursue a wide range of science-related materials.
She said she will push to add an appendix to the standards that includes state-approved supplementary materials.
"I do believe there will be some debate at the BESE meeing," Edmonston said.
The committee included 39 members, mostly educators.
One work group focused on standards for students from kindergarten through grade eight.
The other was for students from ninth through 12th grades.
Any review of public school science standards can spark controversy, including topics like evolution.
While there was some public pushback, no major disputes surfaced.
Wade Warren, a professor of biology at Louisiana College in Pineville, cast the lone "no" vote on final approval of the standards.
"It appears to me that there is a wealth of scientific information that is being excluded from the standards and ultimately from the knowledge of the students who are in the classroom," Warren said after the meeting. "That is what bothers me."
A 2008 state law allows for wide-ranging discussions on evolution and other topics, including the use of alternative materials.
Cox-Boniol said that, while the committee recommended a framework, members wanted to give teachers leeway.
"We had to straddle the fence on creating standards and wading off into curriculum," she said.
"Our job is not to limit teachers," Cox-Boniol said. "Our job is to provide the skeleton, then they put the meat on it."
The review was ordered by BESE last year.
While the new standards could take effect for the 2017-18 school year, no decision has been made.