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Mr. Carroll: Professor Herr gives the next presentation.
Mr. Herr: Mine is coming from a teacher's perspective. I'd like to address pitfalls
and issues that teachers face in science standards. I'd like to respond to this in
an historical perspective to understand the confusion teachers may feel as well as
opportunities we have in education reform. Back in 1983 the National Commission on
Excellence in Education released A Nation at Risk. It had flowery language I'd like
to quote phrases that some of you may remember in the report. It stated "The
educational foundation of the society are presently being eroded by a rising tide
of mediocrity as a nation and as a people." Then with some analogies to the
cold war, we see "If an unfriendly foreign power attempted to impose on America
the mediocre performance that existed today, we might view it as an act of war. As
it stands we allowed this to happen to ourselves. We have been committing an act
of unthinking unilateral educational disarmament." In response to this, the
Commission established a number of goals for educational reform. It's good to look
at the goals we had in the past and realize that we aren't reinventing the wheel.
The 4th goal reads as follows. "By the year 2000 the U.S. Students will be first
in the science and mathematics achievements." We have about 6 months or so.
Although many educational reform movements can be traced back to this report of A
Nation at Risk, it's important to understand the genesis of this report. Where it
came from. Prior to the work of the Commission, numerous reports were prepared by
the National Assessment of Educational Progress referred to a number of times already
today. All of these said American students were performing poorer than their counterparts
of industrialized nations. It's important to realize those assessments themselves
and the standards they developed, and those standards became assessed by the NAEP
or TIMSS studies. So the reform movements by this A Nation at Risk report came from
some standards themselves. The Standards were evaluated and assessed and we realized
we were doing a pretty poor job. I think one of the most important things about the
standards today is for additional reform in the future. This is the beginning of
more reform movements that will happen particularly if we fail to meet the standards
we set. Unfortunately probably one of the chief levels we want.
But since these earlier sets say we are not performing as well as other countries,
(Inaudible), your response to such research have reports developed by blue ribbon
committees in science teacher and schools throughout the country. I'd like to review
a couple. Today's schools are for the advancement of science projects. Also with
the National Science Teachers Association Scope Sequence and Coordination Project
and with the national research projects. In many schools developed standards and
the district standards are aligned with the nation standards of the past. Project
2061 tended to emphasize process the California Science Standards go on content.
It causes teachers to see this as odds with the recommendations of the national commission.
It reflects how to implement. If the national and State recommendations conflict.
Who do I listen to? There is the issue of depth versus breadth. It says if we want
students to learn science and mathematics well, we must radically reduce the amount
of material being covered employ the over-stuffed curriculum places a premium in
committing term and algorithms and understanding.
It would appear from the statement and specific information at conflict. Teachers
might assume you have to go with 2061, (Inaudible) or with the California Department
of Education. Not both. The teachers need to help harmonize these perspectives. 2061
argues that a curriculum shouldn't be a mile wide and an inch deep. It focuses on
development of higher thinking skills through intense focused activities. A lot of
people see breadth and depth as different. We need to acquire different information.
They state high school students should know how to solve problems involving the forces
between two electric charges or the forces between two masses of distances of universal
gravitation. One may teach a chapter on gravity or electricity and never have time
to correlate the principles. However by contrast a teacher that applies math standards
might be inclined to teach either gravity and avoid electricity or vice-versa and
allow time to go deep into (Inaudible). The students in that class will have major
gaps in the understanding. By keeping the other standards in mind, I believe the
content demanded by the State Standards, this is a floor, not a ceiling. Even though
it is still broad. I think it's best understood by going deeper in the few areas
required. For example, if a student understands the geometric basis of the inverse
square law, Newton's law of gravitation, it will be easier for them to remember another
law. Perhaps teacher guidance, the inverse square law will apply to other sources
of energy such as light magnetism or sound. Memorizing separate laws, students will
be able to predict such relationships based on physical and geometric principles.
Now, students who learn a concept deeply will be able to apply it broadly. We should
be suspect there when a curriculum stresses depth but produces no breadth. In addition,
teachers should be careful not to sacrifice depth of understanding to cover all the
standards. We must remember one of the definitions of the term to cover means to
obscure from view. We don't want to cover the curriculum in that way. A personal
anecdote, I taught for a number of years in a small Christian high school. A nice
advantage of a small school is I taught all the AP courses I want. Those courses
are standards-driven. Very high standards and wonderful classes to teach. About this
time of the year the students take the AP exam. One student came up to me and said
I really, really, really want to pass the AP biology exam so I never have to take
biology again. (Laughter) I think we need to keep that in perspective. We need to
cover the bases. We need the understanding. We want them to be life long learners.
The second issue is integrated science. The common core of learning in science and
technology and mathematics should be on literacy. The science mathematics and technology
and between those areas and arts and humanities and vocational subjects.
On project 2061, the National Science Teachers Association through the Scope Sequence
and Coordination Project provides through the science courses that has been involved
with that. In fact even our own California Commission on Teacher Credentialing retired
the former credentials and the physical science credential and brought in a new science
credential (Inaudible) one of the main reasons we did this is a felt the teachers
needed a broader base. Now teachers who are trying to get a science credential have
to have a broad background. They can't get credentialed until they take geology and
so forth. I see Bob Park nodding his head as well. Teachers often see the new standards
at odds with the new science movement. It stretches thematic interdisciplinary learning
movement and to arrange according to the standards. 6th grade focuses on life science
and physical science, the science project doesn't give emphasis to a particular grade.
Again that raises questions as to how to raise the integrated standards that has
gone so far in the State of California already.
Now, if the standards are assessed through this program. The curricula probably need
to change. Many schools do not emphasize the subjects. Many recognize the State Standards
have a positive effect on performance and they must be linked to rewards. I have
done research in comparing honors programs and student population as well. Since
1956 it sustained about an 8 % annual growth rate. It has been done by private organization
by the college board and participating college and schools. One of the interesting
things here is the students have a very tangible reward. A standing reward and GPA
assessed on a grading point average for AP courses. In my studies which intrude approximately
1,000 in the country, this standards based system promoted significant professional
growth and development on the teachers across the board. The most important is teaching
the program because they are now playing the role of a coach because they had to
prepare the teachers to do well on this exam. They had to work hard and prior to
that point a set their own standards. Before that they were abnormally low because
of kicking back. The other interesting thing I found is that the standards will definitely
affect the curriculum when they had a tangible reward associated. In the early '80s,
the biology exam had no test questions related to science experimentation and professors
of colleges said we can't grant you credit because we realize you have no ash contrary
experience employ the teachers are saying that's not assessed on the AP exam so I
won't teach it. Only that which will be assessed. In the mid-80s they introduced
a laboratory component on the exam. My studies showed 98 % of the teachers changed
their curriculum to employ the component. When there is an assessment vehicle, you
can expect it to be changed. Legislature is starting to see the standards produce
meaningful changes and not just the district. You can talk to any student and they
are bored taking STAR exams because they don't see personal value to it. You might
expect to see change then. One of the reasons the scores are low is the students
don't see the value of the exams. Apparently there is a proposed bill, 25-40, they
require those students be required in 1, 2, 3, 4, and 10 based on State Standards.
Now, I think it raises an interesting question. If the State Standards are reduced
for grade levels, what happens in science where perhaps the subjects aren't tested,
for example in 8th grade they cover a variety. The State Standard emphasizes physical
science. You test physical science and how will it affect physical science? I just
wanted to raise these questions. The final thing I want to talk about that comes
up is (Inaudible). In 1996 the State national research council composed a national
standard. The teachers who compare these standards notice they are different. They
are both referred to as standards. The national are self described as a new way of
teaching and learning about science. It reflects how science itself is done as inquiry
and a way of learning about the world. The California Contents are free from pedagogical
bites. Again teachers may perceive with the national standards. While the State Standards
emphasize only content, the national address delivery. Framework will do that shortly.
Teachers might falsely assume the emphasis my imply pedagogy is not personality.
I know it's all important. If you are loading the students with information that
is students will understand. A good teacher demonstrates and a great teacher aspires.
A true teacher might look at education and inspire the students to learn more after
they graduate and are free from assessments. If you want them to be life long learners
and going back to what I referred to before, apparently it didn't have a life long
impact because she went on to be a physician. The real goal is what happens after
they leave the classroom. We want life long learners. The pedagogy should inspire
them to learn more after they leave our classes.
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