New Science Standards Due Next Year

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COLUMBIA - Athough Missouri public schools have not increased science scores since 2009, they have outpreformed the national average.

Despite the scores, new standards are on the way.

Because of the low growth nationwide, new science education standards are being created by four national organizations. Missouri is not one of the twenty-six states helping develop the new guidelines, which will be finalized and released for adoption next year. Columbia Public Schools Science Coordinator Mike Szydlowski said he believes that adopting the new standards will help improve Missouri's scores.

"It's going to take some questioning of ourselves to understand when we look at what we're teaching students, is this important to them?" Szydlowski said. "And if it's not, we might let that go and focus on some deeper things where it is important to the students."

Szydlowski believes the current lesson plans require too much memorization of facts from a large variety of topics.

"There are 180 different topics in biology that they're currently asked to teach and there are 176 school days," Szydlowski said. "And you figure if they can spend one day on a topic, and that's not adequate, and so they really can't cover all that."

The new standards will focus more on critical thinking and problem solving and allow teachers to go in depth on certain topics.

"So what we're really looking forward to is when they can actually focus on some things so the students actually learn it instead of doing a memorization survey of the course," Szydlowski said.

But the potential upside of the future guidelines doesn't come without some pitfalls. The new standards include labs and interactive lessons, but Hickman High School biology teacher Dan Miller said these extra parts could cause a problem for teachers.

Miller said the biggest stress of these additions is time. He said it is difficult for teachers to fit in all topics and their accompanied activities in a school year.

"What do you want me to drop?" Miller said.

Szydlowski adds Missouri plans on adopting the standards when they are finalized. He said these new standards could increase test scores across the nation as well as in Columbia.