More on the proposed TEKS revisions
Being that I am short on time and my blog focuses mainly on evolution, I am only going to comment on the TEKS I feel are related to this topic.
For those unaware, TEKS are the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills. These are the objectives all teachers must cover in class. You may view the current Biology TEKS here. The proposed revisions are found here.
The first two parts of the introduction remain largely the same. When speaking of systems, a minor revision is found at the end of the paragraph:
These patterns help to make inferences about past events, predict what will happen next and can change over time.
The current statement is:
These patterns help to predict what will happen next and can change over time.
Not a big change, in my opinion.
However, in the proposed revisions, the next paragraph is entirely new:
Science uses observational evidence to make predictions of natural phenomena and to construct testable explanations. If ideas are based upon purported forces outside of nature, they cannot be tested using scientific methods. Scientific explanations are open to testing under different conditions, over time, and by independent scientific researchers. Many theories in science are so well established that no new evidence is likely to alter them substantially; however, they are subject to continuing refinement as new areas of science emerge or as new technologies enable observations and experiments that were not possible previously (National Academy of Sciences, 2008, pp. 10-11).
Wow, what a bold statement! And an entirely necessary statement, in my opinion. Science has nothing to say about forces outside of nature because science examines the NATURAL world. Science cannot say anything about the existence or nonexistence of God or any intelligent designer, for example. I really like this addition because it clearly demonstrates that ideas related to the above are not scientific and do not belong in science curriculum.
The current TEKS related specifically to evolution state the following:
(7) Science concepts. The student knows the theory of biological evolution. The student is expected to:
(A) identify evidence of change in species using fossils, DNA sequences, anatomical similarities, physiological similarities, and embryology; and
(B) illustrate the results of natural selection in speciation, diversity, phylogeny, adaptation, behavior, and extinction.
These have been expanded to give a much more detailed explanation of evolution:
(7) Science concepts. The student knows evolutionary theory is an explanation for the diversity of life. The student is expected to:
(A) identify how evidence of common ancestry among groups is provided by the fossil record, biogeography, and homologies including anatomical, molecular, physiological, behavioral and developmental;
(B) recognize that natural selection produces change in populations, not individuals;
(C) describe the elements of natural selection including inherited variation, the potential of a population to produce more offspring than can survive, and a finite supply of environmental resources resulting in differential reproductive success;
(D) recognize the significance of natural selection to adaptation, and to the diversity of species; and
(E) analyze the results of other evolutionary mechanisms including genetic drift, gene flow, mutation, and recombination.
I approve of the expansion, personally. There is much about evolution that is not currently covered in the TEKS. This will hold teachers accountable to teach the theory more fully. Students deserve a good education in the theory, whether they wind up personally believing in it or not.
Keep in mind these are the PROPOSED revisions. These will not be voted on for several months. Stay tuned.