The state’s top school board Tuesday endorsed a potentially controversial review of science standards in Louisiana’s public schools.

The benchmarks used today were crafted in 1997, and they are the third oldest in the nation.

Under the plan, a 31-member committee will oversee the revisions with the assistance of three subcommittees.

Work sessions are set to start in August, including public comments.

The panel is scheduled to make its final recommendations on Feb. 13, 2017.

The state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education will then review the proposed changes in March.

Louisiana students ranked 45th in science in 2011 on the nation’s report card.

BESE member Sandy Holloway, a former science teacher who lives in Thibodaux, said enhanced rigor is needed in the classroom.

“They want more meaty science,” Holloway said of students.

Classroom standards represent what students from kindergarten through 12th grade should know in science, biology, chemistry, physics and other subjects.

The Brookings Institute says Louisiana’s benchmarks lack integration in the all-important STEM — science, technology, math and engineering.

BESE member Jada Lewis, an assistant dean at the College of Engineering at LSU, made the same point.

Lewis, who lives in Baton Rouge, said coordinating the elements that make up STEM is crucial to preparing students for college.

“I am excited about it, I am going to be engaged,” Lewis said.

Reviews of science standards have triggered controversy in other states, including Texas.

At least half of the 31-member Standards Committee will be district and school-based educators.

Others will be nominees from a wide range of groups, including the Louisiana Association of Public Charter Schools, Louisiana Association of Business and Industry, Louisiana Federation of Teachers and the Louisiana Association of Principals.

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