Sheryle Bolton urges State Board of Education to adopt new standards, offering “more explicit connections between learning in a classroom and what lies beyond school”
(Sacramento) – On Wednesday, September 4, 2013, the California State Board of Education unanimously approved adoption of the Next Generation Science Standards for California Public Schools, as recommended by the California Department of Education.
Presenting at the meeting was Sally Ride Science CEO Sheryle Bolton, who urged the Board to approve the standards, stating how “…one of the most successful strategies for improving college and career readiness is to make more explicit connections between what students are learning in the classroom and the world that lies beyond the school.”
The standards—which stress problem solving, critical thinking and finding common principles that science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) share—were recommended to the Board by the California Department of Education, a recommendation that represents the culmination of an extensive collaboration among educators, researchers, and academicians who specialize in STEM. The proposed standards emphasize critical thinking and ideation over memorization in the hope that more students will obtain and maintain an interest in STEM.
“We believe the new standards can help ignite student interest in STEM by encouraging educators and students to apply the science and math concepts that they learn in class to real-world problems requiring data collection, analysis, development and testing of hypotheses,” says Bolton. “This seems to be one issue upon which almost all educators, politicians, and business leaders can agree: we have to do more to prepare students for the challenging and rewarding careers available in our 21st Century economy. At Sally Ride Science, we work with teachers and school administrators throughout the country, and have seen first-hand the emphasis on college and career readiness that is driving K-12 curriculum and assessment decisions in almost every state in the country.”
A key requirement in the Next Generation Science Standards is that students develop the writing skills and facility with non-fiction reading materials that can help them understand problems involving science and technology and effectively communicate solutions. “Integrating English Language Arts with STEM topics can reveal cross-disciplinary connections among the subjects that students encounter in the curriculum,” says Bolton. “In that way, students see how problem-solving and engineering can lead to the new solutions that we call ‘technology.’”
The standards themselves have been in development for approximately two years, and were fueled by the contributions of educators and experts from across the United States. California is now the sixth state to adopt the standards.
“Our company, and the educators we serve, are working hard to ensure that every educator is prepared to show every student how STEM topics can be fun and engaging, and how they offer the potential for rewarding and fulfilling careers,” says Bolton. “The Next Generation Science Standards would provide a terrific foundation for the work we are doing, and for the success of our students. For that reason, I enthusiastically urged the Board to support this adoption and am elated that they have.”