South Carolina state department rejects Next Generation Science Standards

South Carolina school districts have avoided another change to curriculum standards. The South Carolina Department of Education announced late last week that it would reject the use of Next Generation Science Standards, which some have argued is aligned to Common Core.

“Parents, students, and teachers should feel confident that we are maintaining high standards of excellence when it comes to science education and will continue do so in the future,” said State School Superintendent Mick Zais.

The Next Generation Science Standards were developed in 2011 by members of the National Research Council and National Science Teacher Association, as well as education reform  organization Achieve, who led Common Core. The standards are focused on physical science, life science, earth/space science, and engineering.

The state’s education department previously supported a clause added to the General Assembly’s 2012 budget that prohibited the adoption of the standards. With new legislation signed by Gov. Nikki Haley to replace the Common Core Language Arts and Mathematics standards by the fall 2015-16 school year, state education officials have now taken steps to quash any efforts to bring national science standards to South Carolina classrooms.

Students will now be tested using the state’s 2005 science standards. The Fordham Institute, a conservative think tank, gave the standards an A- in its 2012 nationwide study, making South Carolina one of only six to receive a grade of either A or A-.

The same institution gave the Next Generation Science Standards a C and deemed them “clearly inferior” than South Carolina’s own curriculum. Zais said the 2005 standards would be updated to reflect an emphasis on science, technology, engineering and mathematics study.

“The new science standards that were adopted today are based on our state’s highly regarded 2005 standards, not the Next Generation Science Standards, which our state has firmly rejected,” said Zais.  “The improvements we have made include adding engineering, inquiry-based learning, and helping students use science in ways that they can use in their everyday lives, improving the foundation for their postsecondary education.”

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