New York’s Efforts to Transform Science Education

By Arnie Serotsky, Co Facilitator of the New York State Science Education Consortium

[Spring 2018 NYPT]

In the early 1990s, many young Americans were not prepared to work in, contribute to, or benefit from our technological society.

In response, the NYS Board of Regents adopted and revised the NYS Math, Science and Technology Standards in 1996.

However, New York’s science education programs were based on knowledge and concepts about science and science teaching established more than two decades ago. Can anyone argue that our knowledge and understanding of science has not changed and grown, in many ways drastically, over this time?

But the need for change in how we teach science is not simply a story of it’s “about time.” There are many reasons to suggest that today’s young Americans, including those attending and graduating from New York’s secondary schools, are not prepared to participate in the increasingly science and technology based economy that exists today, and will even more so in the future. This is not only a threat to the well-being of future citizens, but to the economic well-being and security of New York State.

In response to these and other concerns, New York’s Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) stakeholders and science education professionals have worked together with the NYS Education Department to develop a new Strategic Plan for Science and new State Science Learning Standards.

The Board of Regents adopted both the plan and standards in 2016. These NYS P-12 Science Learning Standards are nationally and internationally benchmarked and research based.

New York’s new Science Learning Standards represent a shift in science teaching and learning that will benefit all students. There is a greater emphasis on conceptual understanding, analysis and problem solving, rather than the current overemphasis on fact and vocabulary memorization. We hope to equip New York’s future citizens with critical thinking skills that will help them carefully evaluate information, no matter the source.

Educator feedback and input was instrumental in shaping these standards throughout the process, to help ensure that the standards address skills that are needed by all students, so they are ready for college, career and workforce participation.

You can find more information about science education HERE.