Archive for TEKS

Texas scientists want religion, politics out of science curriculum

Posted in Education, Texas with tags , , , , , , , , , , on October 6, 2008 by airtightnoodle

Thanks to Jimpithecus at Science and Religion, I found the following article from the Houston Chronicle regarding the science TEKS. 

A group of Texas scientists are worried that the state board of education will insist on keeping the “strengths and weaknesses” clause in the Texas standards for biology education.  Currently this phrase is not found in the proposal for the new TEKS. 

David Hillis from the University of Texas summed up the feelings of scientists and science educators across the state well by saying:

“We are here to support and promote strong, clear, modern science education in Texas schools,” said David Hillis, professor of integrative biology at the University of Texas at Austin. “Texas public schools should be preparing our kids to succeed in the 21st century, not promoting political and ideological agendas that are hostile to a sound science education.”

However, the article also states that:

A panel of experts recently recommended the “strengths and weaknesses” provision remain in astronomy and chemistry but be removed from the updated science curriculum.

Who is this “panel of experts”, and why did they recommend for the provision to remain in certain areas? 

As mentioned previously on this blog, the TEKS will not be voted on until next spring.

More on the proposed TEKS revisions

Posted in Education, Evolution, Texas with tags , , , , , , , , on October 5, 2008 by airtightnoodle

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.

First draft of Texas science standards (TEKS) available online

Posted in Education, Evolution with tags , , , , , , , , , on September 28, 2008 by airtightnoodle

The first draft of the newly proposed science TEKS (Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills) is now available for viewing online.  You can view the proposals here.

Keep checking the site as supposedly they will soon be asking for input on these proposed TEKS.

Texas State Board of Education…science curriculum update

Posted in Education, Evolution with tags , , , , , , , , , on July 29, 2008 by airtightnoodle

The following info is from STAT (Science Teachers Association of Texas):

STAT President Mike Baldwin attended both the Public Education Committee meeting on July 16 and the State Board of Education meeting the 17th to discuss the revisions of the science curriculum.

In light of the English Language Arts TEKS adoption process, several science educators, including STAT President Mike Baldwin and Past-President Kevin Fisher, testified about the importance of involving science educators to develop quality standards for science.  Testimony stressed the need for a superior and transparent process that provides sufficient time and review necessary for developing a quality product.  STAT’s concern is that some SBOE members will try to indirectly diminish the quality of the science standards by diluting or discouraging the coverage of important science topics such as scientific inquiry, historical geology, and evolution.

You may read President Baldwin’s report on the meetings.

Public Education Committee meeting: http://www.statweb.org/news/7.16meeting.php.

State Board of Education meeting: http://www.statweb.org/news/7.17meeting.php.

Educators interested in the Public Education Committee meeting can view this meeting online at: http://www.house.state.tx.us/committees/broadcasts.php?session=80&committeeCode=400

under the 07/16/08, 9:10 AM – 2:35 AM broadcast.

 

Science standards revision time! Get ready, Texans!

Posted in Education with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 12, 2008 by airtightnoodle

The Texas State Board of Education is getting ready to revise the science TEKS (for those out of state: Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills; basically, the science education standards for the state).  The following comes from the TABT (Texas Association of Biology Teachers).  A similar statement has been released by STAT (Science Teachers Association of Texas).

In an unprecedented move in the last round of English Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS) updates, the State Board of Education (SBOE) rejected three years of revision work completed by highly competent Texas English teachers. At the last minute, the SBOE substituted and approved a substitute document submitted by a few members of the SBOE. Please let your SBOE member and state legislature know that you are concerned with any efforts to ignore the revision work of the Texas science teachers.

TABT members are urged to contact their SBOE member and ask for support for quality science education before the July 17 SBOE meeting. At this meeting, the timeline for the revision of the Science TEKS will be established.  For information on how to contact your SBOE member for your district, go directly to TEA at http://www.tea.state.tx.us/sboe/members.html.