ARCHIVES: May 2015 K-12 Science Curriculum Meeting Recommendations
Getting Ready for NGSS / New Michigan Standards
(this page was updated on June 18, 2015 to reflect ongoing discussion with NLHS Administration and Shiawassee RESD)
Discussion with Lory Thayer, our new SRESD Science Coordinator reveals MDE is close to adopting NGSS style standards, calling them "Michigan Standards" to allow some regional specificity not present in the NGSS
"Michigan Standards" will be based on Cross Cutting Concepts, Core Ideas and Engineering Practices
Cross Cutting Concepts
(7 Cross Cutting Concepts)
Disciplinary Core Ideas
(12 Earth, 14 Life and 12 Physical)
A significant shift in Middle School is the need to integrate Engineering Practices
A significant shift in High School will be "adding back" an Earth Science "Core" Graduation Requirement
Middle School Challenge: ADDING ENGINEERING DESIGN TO THE MIDDLE LEVEL CURRICULUM
It is difficult for middle school students to learn about and implement engineering practices at the same time that they are focused on learning significant amounts science content. A stand alone engineering foundations unit would better suit the learning style of young adolescents.
Recommendation to meet NGSS standards for Engineering Practices in Middle School:
Pilot a "Project Lead The Way" Middle School Foundation Unit which is partly subsidized by the SRESD in the New Lothrop Industrial Arts department for the 2015/2016 School Year.
High School Challenge: HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS AVOID THE CURRENT YEAR LONG HIGH SCHOOL EARTH SCIENCE CLASS IN FAVOR OF SPECIALISED, ACCELERATED, OR CAREER FOCUSED CLASSES TARGETED TOWARD POST-SECONDARY GOALS.
Current Michigan Law for High School graduation requires that students complete 3 years of science and Specifies Biology and either Chemistry, Physics, Anatomy or Agricultural Science. Earth Science is identified as one of many possible electives for a third year of science.
THE REVISED SCHOOL CODE (EXCERPT) Act 451 of 1976
The Michigan Department of Education has made further clarification for graduation requirements by identifying a "Merit Curriculum" which is intended to ensure students are well-prepared for future success in college and the workplace.
Many students at New Lothrop choose a CTE progression of Botany/Zoology and then Natural Resources and Chemistry (taking 4 credits of science in High School).
Many other students choose to take a non-CTE progression of Biology and Chemistry, then Physics and finally science electives other than Earth Science (also taking 4 or more credits of science in High School).
The result is that only 25% of our Sophomore class took the year-long "Earth Science" class in High School in 2014/2015. Because of the low number of student requests, the Earth Science class has been removed from the 2015/2016 draft schedule.
In compliance with state law and department of education guidelines and a desire to offer maximum flexibility to students, the full year "Earth Science" class taught at NLHS which addresses existing Michigan High School Content Expectations and incoming NGSS HS-ESS Disciplinary Core Ideas for Earth Science is not a graduation requirement for New Lothrop High School. Unfortunately, funding for our district is tied to State Assessments that will continue to emphasize Earth Science content based on incoming NGSS standards.
Data for recent Statewide High School Assessments has not yet revealed effects that the current trend in reduced numbers of students completing High School Earth Science has had on our State Assessment Scores in Science.
Recommendations for meeting NGSS Standards for Earth Science while also meeting Student/Parent desire for CTE and Acclerated Classes in High School:
A. Continue to review State Assessment Test Results for the recent past and evaluate whether Earth Science Content Scores are significantly lower than Life or Physical Science Scores.
B. Require a minumum Earth Science "Core" for all High School Students upon adoption of new NGSS aligned standards by the State of Michigan.
C. Update Other NLHS Earth Science Related Offerings
Footnote Regarding Embedding Engineering Design in the High School Science Curriculum:
High School students are generally more capable than middle school students in accomplishing NGSS Engineering tasks which are embedded into traditional science classrooms as suggested by the incoming Michigan Science Standards (see Proposed Science Standards link at the top of this page). NLHS high school students will be particulary well prepared for embedded engineering tasks if we implement engineering foundations courses in middle school.