Utah Calls for Public Review of Science Standards


The Utah State Board of Education is currently asking for a public review of the sixth to eighth grade Utah Science and Engineering Education (SEEd) standards to take place over the next 90 days.

The standards suggest what knowledge students should hold by the end of each grade level in the state.  Performance expectations are listed for students under each standard.  The standards do not include a set curriculum, but rather it is up to teachers and administrators to develop a curriculum that coordinates with the standards, reports Becky Wright for the Standard Examiner.

“We hope that through the streamlining that they become easier for local control,” Ricky Scott, a science education specialist with the Utah State Office of Education, said.

An online survey tool is available for public comment on the standards, which are also available for online public viewing.  In addition, 5 public meetings will take place across the state in order to allow for discussion.

The end of the review period will come on July 9.  At that time, revisions based on the public feedback will be made and the standards will be presented to the State Board of Education.  If approved, the standards will then be fully implemented in science classes throughout the state for the 2017-18 school year.

The current standards are 10 years old.  The new standards will be a long-awaited update and will be more closely aligned with the goals for college and career readiness in use in Utah, with a greater focus on engineering fields, as well as technological advancements in communication and GSP.

“We talk a lot with the community about how much has changed in our society,” said Sarah Young, a K-12 science specialist at the Utah State Office of Education. “Not just in terms of our understanding of a lot of these science concepts, … but additionally the research around best practices for teaching science (and) how to effectively instruct our kids to be college- and career-ready.”

The updated standards were revised by science teachers and curriculum specialists.

Board members have also released K-5 Library Media Standards for a 90-day review period.  Recommendations have been approved from review committees looking at standards for physical educations, secondary social studies, and fine arts.

Amendments have also been made to the rule allowing parents to opt their children out of state assessment tests.  The changes were made in order to coordinate with Senate Bill 204, which focuses on parental rights in education.  The new rule requires parents and guardians to fill out an opt-out form at least one day prior to the scheduled test.