The House Education Committee will convene a special session beginning at 8:00 a.m. Thursday in the Lincoln Auditorium to discuss Idaho’s content standards, with attention sure to be focused on the science standards. The legislature is hoping to finalize new science standards to replace those that have not been updated since 2001. The IEA shares that hope, believing that consistency in the standards would benefit both teachers and students, and would lead to more accurate and credible state-level science assessments. If the 2018 legislature is unable to approve new standards, then Idaho will revert to standards from 2009.
The public is invited to share their opinions regarding the science standards, either in person during the House Education Committee meeting or by contacting members of the committee. If necessary, the committee will continue taking testimony and discussing the content standards Friday morning. There is a three minute time limit on live testimony, and it has been requested that all testimony be directly applicable to the content standards themselves. Please remember that you are representing all educators, and keep any comments (in-person or electronically) professional and focused on productive outcomes. Live streaming of the hearing is available here.
In last year’s session, the legislature approved science standards on a temporary basis after the House Education Committee voted to remove five sections of the proposed standards dealing with climate change. Public testimony was overwhelmingly in favor of the standards as originally developed by a team of elite science educators, including IEA member and 2016 Idaho Teacher of the Year Melyssa Ferro. That team has further modified the standards to include references to the positive impact that humans can have on the climate, in addition to the detrimental impact that they can have on the environment. “These standards DO NOT represent a major change in content from our previous standards,” Ferro says. “They are action oriented and require students to actually do science rather than just memorize it.”
Below is a rough draft of the most recent changes proposed to the science standards:
ESS3-MS-5. Ask questions to interpret evidence of the factors that cause climate variability over time.
- Further Explanation: Examples of factors include human activities (such as fossil fuel combustion and changes in land use) and natural processes (such as changes in incoming solar radiation and volcanic activity). Examples of evidence can include tables, graphs, and maps of global and regional temperatures, atmospheric levels of gases such as carbon dioxide and methane, and natural resource use.
Climate has a much bigger scope than the last hundred years, so the standard was modified to reflect that timeframe. The factors which are outlined in the Further Explanation piece were broadened to be more encompassing of the range of human activities which might affect climate.
ESS3.C: Human Impacts on Earth Systems
- Human activities can have consequences (positive and negative) onthe biosphere, sometimes altering natural habitats and causing the extinction of other species. (ESS3-MS-3)
- Technology and engineering can potentially mitigate impacts on Earth’s systems as both human populations and per-capita consumption of natural resources increase. (ESS3-MS-3, ESS3-MS-4)
- Mitigating current changes in climate depends on understanding climate science. Current scientific models indicate that human activities, such as the release of greenhouse gases from fossil fuel combustion, are the primary factors in the present-day measured rise in Earth’s mean surface temperature. Natural activities, such as changes in incoming solar radiation, also contribute to changing global temperatures. (ESS3-MS-5)
All of the statements were updated to start with a focus on the solutions rather than just outlining the problems with human impacts on Earth’s systems. A reference was added to include current scientific models as the basis for informing instruction at the classroom level.
LS4.D: Biodiversity and Humans
- Biodiversity is increased by the formation of new species (speciation) and decreased by the loss of species (extinction). (LS2-HS-7)
- Sustaining ecosystem health and biodiversity is essential to support and enhance life on Earth. Sustaining biodiversity also aids humanity by preserving landscapes of recreational, cultural, or inspirational value. Humans depend on the living world for the resources and other benefits provided by biodiversity. Impacts on biodiversity can be mitigated through actions such as habitat conservation, reclamation practices, wildlife management, and invasive species control. Understanding the effects of population growth, wildfire, pollution, and climate variability on changes in biodiversity could help maintain the integrity of biological systems. (LS2-HS-7, LS4-HS-6.)
Broader examples were used in reference to Idaho-centric issues. The text was reworded to place a balanced focus on solutions and problems.
ESS2 .D: Weather and Climate
- Current models project that, without human intervention, average global temperatures will continue to rise. The outcomes projected by global climate models depend on the amounts of greenhouse gases added to the atmosphere each year and by the ways in which these gases are stored by Earth’s systems. (ESS3-HS-6)
Bulky and unnecessary verbiage was removed to simplify the content of this text. The more accurate term of “project” was used. A reference was added to include current scientific models as the basis for informing instruction at the classroom level. Implication made that human intervention can mitigate potential issues with climate.