Massachusetts is in the process of revising the current Science and Technology/Engineering Standards. The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education has released a draft of the revised standards but formal adoption is not projected to take place until the 2015-2016 school year. The DESE has encouraged elementary districts to begin the alignment process to the new standards. When revised standards are adopted there will be a multi-year transition plan for districts to adjust their curriculum and for the state to adjust the MCAS tests. Typically this takes 2-3 years after adoption but an implementation timeline will be determined when the standards are moved forward for adoption.
Key shifts in the draft revised standards
The STE standards are intended to drive coherent, rigorous instruction that results in student mastery and application of scientific, technological and engineering knowledge, reasoning, and skills. The draft revised standards reflect several key shifts from prior Massachusetts standards, a number of which reflect similar shifts in recent mathematics and ELA standards:
1.Integration of disciplinary core ideas and practices reflect the interconnected nature of science and engineering.
The standards integrate disciplinary core ideas (concepts) with scientific and engineering practices (skills). Currently, Massachusetts science and technology/engineering standards focus primarily on content. The integration of rigorous concepts and practices reflects how science and engineering is applied and practiced every day and is shown to enhance student learning of both.
2.Preparation for post-secondary success in college and careers.
The standards articulate key knowledge and skills students need to succeed in entry-level, credit-bearing science, engineering or technical courses in college or university; certificate or workplace training programs requiring an equivalent level of science; or comparable entry-level science or technical courses, as well as jobs and postsecondary opportunities that require scientific and technical proficiency to earn a living wage.
3.Science and technology/engineering concepts and practices progress coherently from Pre-K to high school.
The standards emphasize a focused and coherent progression of knowledge and skills from grade band to grade band, allowing for a dynamic process of knowledge and skill building throughout a student’s scientific education. The progression gives students the opportunity to learn more sophisticated material and re-conceptualize their understanding of how the natural and designed world works, leading to the scientific and technical understanding needed for post-secondary success.
4.Focus on deeper understanding and application of concepts.
The standards are focused on a small set of disciplinary core ideas that build across grades and lead to deeper understanding and application of concepts. The standards are written to both articulate the broad concepts and key components that specify expected learning.
5.Each discipline is integrated in grade-by-grade standards Pre-K to grade 8.
To achieve consistency across schools and districts and to facilitate collaborative work, resource sharing, and effective education for transient populations, the PreK to grade 8 standards are presented by grade level. All four disciplines, including earth and space science, life science, physical science, and technology/engineering are included in each grade to encourage integration across the year and through curriculum, including the use of crosscutting concepts and nature of science themes.
6.The STE standards are coordinated with the Commonwealth’s English Language Arts and Mathematics standards.