The Utah State Board of Education voted Friday to adopt new 6-8 grade science standards that incorporate engineering concepts and reflect current research.
The standards will go into effect in the 2018-19 school year, following a pilot year in 2017-18. This allows time for teacher training and test item development.
This is the first time since 2003 that middle school science standards have been overhauled. It is the first time engineering concepts have been implemented into any K-12 science standards in Utah.
A first iteration of the standards – which were based on the Next Generation Science Standards and A Framework for K-12 Science Education by the National Research Council – were released for a 90-day public review over this past summer. A second iteration, which included substantial modifications, was released for additional comment in October. After each public review, teacher writing teams made revisions based on public feedback. Additionally, Utah State Office of Education staff members hosted five public meetings across the state to gather input. In total, more than 1,500 comments were provided that led to standards that more closely focus on the scientific method.
Since 1984, the Utah State Board of Education has set academic standards in core subject areas. Standards define what students should know and be able to do. Individual schools and school districts set their own curriculum.
Board Members voted 11-4 to adopt the standards. Those voting for the motion were: Dixie Allen, Leslie Castle, Barbara Corry, David Crandall, Brittney Cummins, Linda Hansen, Stan Lockhart, Mark Huntsman, Spencer Stokes, David Thomas, and Terryl Warner. Members Laura Belnap, Jennifer Johnson, Jefferson Moss, and Joel Wright voted against the motion.