Are you ready to have national science standards in UT?

Have you ever been told ‘we would NEVER adopt the national science standards’?   I have; numerous times from many elected officials.

I started to push back against the Common Core reforms in early 2012.  We warned this wasn’t simply about a set of standards.   We warned there is more coming down the pipeline.  The move to centralize and control education is moving at a rapid pace.  We warned there were national science and social study standards waiting in the wings.  We later warned there were national sex ed standards.  We warned and warned and warned.

More often than not our pleas seem to fall on deaf ears….at least with decision makers.

In September of this year I was appointed to serve on the State science standards review committee.

The committee consists of 5 parents appointed by the Senate, 5 parents appointed by the House, and 7 subject experts appointed by the board chair.  On paper that sounds like a measured and balanced approach.

The committee doesn’t have the feel of a parent committee, more like a who’s who in science committee with a couple of “regular” parents thrown in.  Arguably, they are parents too, but that wasn’t the intent of the committee.

These committees can be manipulated to pick and choose who are the chosen few to have a real say in what is happening.   The law already required parental input so I don’t feel the committee is necessary.

I know the state office was frustrated so many “anti-common core” parents were chosen and I’m concerned the USOE (UT State Office of Education) is manipulating the process.

First, they sent a list of parents they recommended as being chosen to the Senate and House.  Isn’t that sweet?

Second, prior to the meeting I was sent a link to the current science standards with the assignment to thoroughly review the standards.  I knew that the state office had already started working on new standards so why spend so much time looking at standards that are already on their way out.

Third, prior to the meeting we were also sent a pro-common core propaganda piece to help prepare for my meeting.   That really bugged.

Fourth, upon arrival at the meeting we were assigned seats.  I’ll never know for certain if our names were carefully arranged or not but it did seem to be that the “parents” were surrounded by “experts”.   I just happened be to sitting by the lead writer of the national science standards.

Fifth, two members of the “writing” committee were also on the “review” committee.  Does that even make sense?

Sixth, a good portion of the beginning of our meeting was devoted to explaining the purpose of the meeting and they made it clear the meeting was definitely NOT to talk about Common Core.  Do they realize the entire reason the committee exists is BECAUSE of Common Core?

Seventh, we were strongly encouraged not to speak to each other outside of the meeting in smaller groups and to only communicate with the entire committee because this was a “collective” effort.

Eighth, we were repeatedly encouraged NOT to blog about the meeting because that would just be awkward at our next meeting…oops.

In all seriousness, I planned on following their request because everyone was really nice and I enjoyed the conversations I had with committee members but the more I thought about the meeting and how manipulated it was the more resolve I felt to let people know.

Ninth, we spent over an hour going over the current, intended to be thrown out, standards.

At 11 AM, one hour to the close of our meeting, we finally received the draft standards and broke up into committees to discuss.  That does not leave enough time to look much at content.  The staff was going to close comments at the end of our meeting but I cited the law and asked that we have more time to submit feedback.

******Sorry for the bitter tone, everyone was very nice BUT I did feel manipulated and that bothered me.******

Now on to the standards….

The proposed standards are…….dun, dun, dun….

IDENTICAL to the Next Generation Science Standards! (NGSS)  Is anyone surprised?  Yeah, I didn’t think so.

I went to the meeting expecting to see this.

I would give you proof with a side by side comparison but in order to be able to leave the meeting with the draft copies, I had to sign a non-disclosure statement that I wouldn’t make any digital copies.  Lucky for you they’re publicly available online for your perusal and enjoyment.

Feel free to download a copy here:  http://www.nextgenscience.org/next-generation-science-standards

Currently, UT is only changing our 6-8th grade standards so look at Middle School Standards.

The “writing” committee carefully reformatted each page and only put one standard on a page instead of multiple.

Each page contain the same few basic elements.

  • The standard or Performance Expectation
  • Clarification Statement
  • Assessment Boundary
  • Cross cutting Framework

Here is an example of one page from the NGSS:

Example page out of the NGSS
Example page out of the NGSS

Now let’s take a closer look:

The red arrow points to the standard’s identity and the green box outlines exactly what the standard  or performance expectation is.

NGSS standards example 1
Click for clearer image

The green box is outlining the clarification statement.

Click for clearer image
Click for clearer image

The Assessment Boundaries are now outlined in green.

Click for clearer image
Click for clearer image

Below is a portion framework developed by the National Research Council.

Click for clearer image
Click for clearer image

From the A Framework for K-12 Science Education: Practices, Crosscutting Concepts, and Core Ideas ( 2012 ):

The National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers have developed “Common Core State Standards” in mathematics and language arts, and 43 states and the District of Columbia have adopted these standards as of early 2011. The anticipation of a similar effort for science standards was a prime motivator for this NRC study and the resulting framework described in this report.

To maintain the momentum, the Carnegie Corporation commissioned the nonpartisan and nonprofit educational reform organization Achieve, Inc., to lead states in developing new science standards based on the NRC framework in this report. There is no prior commitment from multiple states to adopt such standards, so the process will be different from the Common Core process used for mathematics and language arts. But it is expected that Achieve will form partnerships with a number of states in undertaking this work and will offer multiple opportunities for public comment.

Sound familiar?  Same players, same tune…

Underneath the colorful framework boxes is listed the Common Core standards that go along with each standard.

Click for clearer image
Click for clearer image

There were some changes made in the proposed draft  and I’ll list them out generally here and will be able to get more specific at a later date.

  • UT added a Root question to help arrange the standards by topic
  • THE STANDARDS  or PERFORMANCE EXPECTATIONS ARE IDENTICAL
  • Clarification Statements- the majority are the same but the writing team did add to, delete (minimal), re-order and rephrase
  • Assessment Boundaries – some changes but very little
  • Framework – IDENTICAL

The important part is that the standards are 99.9 % the same with the exception of one word that was left out.  I’ve been communicating with the State Board of Ed and it doesn’t appear that any board member knew the national standards were being used.  Most seemed to think we were updating our old standards.

The Next Generation Science Standards were scored a C by the Fordham institute.

Fordham said that the current UT standards were clearly superior to the NGSS.  In fact there are 14 states with clearly superior standards.  If this were truly about raising achievement, those state standards would be our guide not sub-par standards with a very clear political bent.

Here’s the full review:

20130612-NGSS-Final-Review_7

In fact, Utah’s current standards are rated higher than NGSS. Why are we intent on lowering our standards?

http://edexcellence.net/publications/final-evaluation-of-NGSS.html

Citizens in Kansas are currently suing their state board of ed.  From their website:

The Complaint alleges that the implementation of NGSS “will have the effect of causing Kansas public schools to establish and endorse a non-theistic religious worldview,” in violation of the First and Fourteenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution.

Start researching now and be prepared to comment during the 90 day public comment period.

Public comment begins in December but there is no reason we can’t urge the state board to throw these out and start over.  Elections are next week, find out where the candidates stand on the Next Generation Science Standards.  Call, text, write and plead with the current state board to go back to the drawing board.  Utah students deserve better.

23 thoughts on “Are you ready to have national science standards in UT?”

  1. Alisa. Thank you for taking the time to serve on this committee, study the standards and expose that the process is rigged. People need to start contacting the State School Board and Governor Herbert’s office in droves about this and about the fact that the same process exists for the Math, English and History/Social standards review committees (and others to come). Ask the Governor why his standards review committee chair, Rich Kendall came out with a 5-year education plan this week that hinges on Common Core’s English and math standards.
    http://educationfirstutah.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/Education-Plan-Report_V3-ONLINE.pdf

    Do they really think parents don’t see what’s going on? The entire standards review process is political theater being perpetrated by big-business and big-government and parents, teachers, and local school districts are being played for patsies.

    Wyoming parents were successful in getting their state board to delay implementation of the NGSS. Please read the overview of their state school board meeting to understand the Godless nature of these Science Standards.
    http://www.copeinc.org/docs/WyomingDelaysNGSS.pdf

    Here’s are the statements from two concerned citizens.

    Judy H. said her concern is about objectivity. She pointed out that NGSS addresses the religious questions “Where do we come from and what is the nature of life?” Judy said the standards “then use a doctrine/rule [methodological naturalism] that permits only materialistic or functionally atheistic answers.” Three specific areas of concern were mentioned: “evolution is taught as fact; global warming/climate change is taught as fact; emphasis [is on] the negative impact of humans on the earth.” She stated that the standards “seek to infuse students with a particular political view regarding climate change, sustainability, renewable energy and other environmental matters.” She urged the Board to “not adopt this Plan which appears to promote an atheistic worldview rather than objective science education.”

    Jeff H. focused his remarks on the environmental standards in NGSS – especially the standards’ promotion of human population control, the negative effects of human activities, the use of renewable energy sources, and manmade global warming. He asked: “If Wyoming’s economy revolves around fossil fuels, do we really want to teach our children to look negatively at the use of such resources especially when such resources have been the cause to celebrate some of the best advances in human history?” Jeff said he is “concerned with the lack of non-educator parental, community, and business/industry/agriculture representation on the review committee.” The overall tone of his testimony was that the environmental standards do not represent Wyoming values.

    PARENTS AND GRANDPARENTS, GET ON YOUR PHONES AND EMAILS TO ALL OF THE STATE BOARD MEMBERS, AND TO THE GOVERNOR’S OFFICE. http://schoolboard.utah.gov/board-members-2
    Governor’s Office: 801-538-1000

    WE CANNOT ALLOW A WEDGE TO BE DRIVEN BETWEEN US AND OUR POSTERITY. THEY ARE GOING TO BE TAUGHT, ON PURPOSE, THAT OUR BELIEF IN GOD IS NAIVE AND THAT OUR VALUES ARE ANTIQUATED IF WE DON’T TAKE A STAND.

  2. If they’re going to have Science CC “standards,” then will they continue to have all of those science articles in the Language Arts reading books? Or will they balance it out by inserting nature poetry by Wordsworth, Hopkins, and Dickenson in the Science books?

  3. It is extremely important we get the SCIENCE STANDARDS right. I am on the parent review committee for the SAGE testing. I had concerns over several science question and on the last day we could voice some of those concerns and share our thoughts with legislators, state school board members, and USOE staff. Knowing our time would be limited, I typed up a one page analysis.

    Here is a small portion of my observations: “… In the area of science-There is too much taught by Utah Science Teachers that is not controversial to perpetuate theories in science that are controversial. If it is a theory it should be clearly stated as such on the assessment or left to the knowledge-based items society has no disagreements about.”

    In August, we met to go back over questions that were flagged and found that many of these questions were put on the test. When we asked, “Why?”, we were told that either a teacher or staff member had compared them to the STANDARDS and found that the flagged question did addressed a specific standard …So even if there had been concerns, an alignment to the standards allowed for the usage of the questions.

    It is hard to estimate the percent of these types of questions because the questions were read by only two-or so reviewers during the week. As a state our concern should be that theories and inaccuracies were assessed and therefore will be taught by teachers. I think when you are grading schools, teachers, children, etc. we should expect the best questions available.

    These SCIENCE STANDARDS will drive everything from assessments, to classroom experiences, teachers pay, student learning, etc. It is important to get it right. Thanks for helping our state get it right.

    Thanks for the hard work Alisa

    Jennie Earl

  4. Thank you, Alisa. Parents need to be pounding out the emails and phone calls to the state and local school boards right now, pushing back against this adoption of identical science standards that the leftist machine has created for the nation.

  5. I looked through the Fordham institute document. It seemed to me that they were very focused on content and “essential knowledge.” I’m not a fan of federal control of education nor am I a fan of he current Utah science standards. But I would like to see my own kids engaged directly in science rather than sitting passively and hearing about it. It does, indeed, sound like the committee had already decided to go with the NGSS and had planned on how to preempt your dissident voice. And that’s not cool, in my book. Still, I wouldn’t rely on the Fordham document; the institute’s president, Chester Finn, is an apologist for No Child Left Behind.

    1. I agree that the Fordham review is not the ultimate authority but it is a decent place to start and exposes that the national standards weren’t our only option.

  6. This is SO frustrating – how did we EVER get started overriding what teachers decide to teach in their classes?! This has become SO confusing – we did not expect a rat to get into our system, but it is THERE and gnawing away. I feel Christel’s frustration – now you know how TEACHERS feel at a faculty meeting where the principal is already on the Common Core team whether he/she likes it or not, and teachers are sitting there hating every minute of training to incorporate goals and objectives they don’t agree with. It’s like an attitude of NOT burdening anything with due process, just pushing it through and hoping nobody is smart enough (like Christel IS…) to notice what’s going on. Deception has taken over parents. Do you care? I wish I could say we are all being paranoid, but this is our nightmare coming true – it’s reality. Do what you can on a local basis to fight the Common Core. It is NOT about higher standards, as you can see here. Study these things out. Your kids are the FUTURE of American and we need America to survive this. It won’t if you don’t activate yourselves at your local schools and stop letting the higher ups think UACC is just a minority group in paranoia. We need EVERY parent to get involved. This group is MOSTLY parents who have. As a retired teacher, I attest I was WORN OUT listening to the hogwash in teaching. I left not feeling like I was a retired TEACHER anymore, but a retired puppet of the ceased schools, working for evolving communistic schools. The more I study the situation, the more I know those feelings were truth shining through. I was not too old to teach, I was not crazy or lazy, I was WEARY of unuseful training and poor concepts forced upon me. GO HELP YOUR TEACHERS – speak up.

  7. OOPS – spelling error – SEIZED schools, not ceased schools! And Christel is right – we’ve been warned over and over. Next is Sex education so everyone can believe that any gender can marry any gender, and then its marrying other than a human, and just gets nastier and nastier. Anything to desecrate the word MARRIAGE and leave it in oblivion. Are you going to fight or not? Get on this team and be active, please.
    I am 100% with Mia Love – vote for her. She is NOT radical in her ideas – she knows it’s gone too far to stop it, so GETTING RID of the cancer of the Department of Education IS the only answer. We have been taken over, and must take BACK the freedom of the classrooms. All that is upon us is about controlling people. I guess you’ll find out we are right if you just sit at home and do nothing. Follow this site – activate and write to legislators right from your computer. Oak gives you every little detail you need. Just do it…

  8. oops – wrong again – it was ALISA that wrote this report – not Christel – they are BOTH so competent and I get them mixed up – early founders of this site! It’s late and I need sleep – yup – I stay up trying to support until I drop. Please pay attention. Support UACC.

  9. I love this piece. I am wondering if you by chance know of a way to access the CURRENT Utah science standards? The ones they are attempting to throw out for this garbage.

  10. Alisa, I’m just wondering where your integrity is? If the USOE had asked me to sign a non-disclosure statement saying that I wouldn’t blog about the information I had seen and heard at these meetings, my integrity would tell me to uphold that agreement. I don’t care how manipulated the whole thing seemed to me. I would have had the integrity to not blog about the information I had seen, because they asked me not to. “Oops.” I’m glad you got kicked off the parent committee, and will no longer be able to break the story to your anti-common core community. GET SOME INTEGRITY!

    1. I happen to have a lot of integrity and thought long and hard about sharing this information. The USOE is being deceptive to the state board and to the people of the state of UT. It takes a lot of integrity to stand up to them and expose truth.

      The state law that set up these boards did not put the USOE in charge and yet they’ve taken charge. The state board is simply supposed to provide staff. The staff abused the law.
      http://le.utah.gov/~2014/bills/static/hb0342.html

      1. Alisa, I don’t care how much your rationalize about what you did. The USOE asked you to sign a non-disclosure statement saying you would not to blog about this, and you chose to do it anyway. To me that is a lack of integrity. No rationalization in the world can change that. You have the right to choose what you want, but your choice has gotten you thrown off the committee. I would rather have people with integrity on this parent committee than ones without.

        1. The non-disclosure statement DID NOT say we wouldn’t blog about this. It simply said we wouldn’t produce a digital copy of the standards. I didn’t break that agreement.

          I am not thrown off the committee.

          1. My understanding of a non-disclosure statement is that you agree to not disclose any of the information that you’ve been shown. When a non-disclosure statement is breached, for whatever higher reason you think you might have, to me it shows a lack of integrity. I also understand that when a non-disclosure statement is beached, you are usually asked to step down from whatever you were involved in. From my reasoning, I was guessing that because you blogged about your meeting you had violated the non-disclosure statement, and you were going to be let go from this committee. If blogging was not included in the non-disclosure statement and you get to remain on the committee, then I’m sorry I insulted your integrity.

        2. Integrity is doing the morally correct thing, even when it is unpopular, hard, against the grain, etc… I feel Alisa exemplified integrity by expressing these concerns. The process is not adhering to the laws set in place. Someone without integrity would go along with the process, as is. I’m grateful to have someone on the Parent Review Committee who is willing to stand up for truth.

          Thank you, Alisa for having integrity.

    2. Dear Anonymous:

      Not only is your comment cowardly as it is written in shadow it is also way off base. You have replied to one of the most integrity-filled people in the state of Utah if not the whole of the United States and trust me when I say the pool is shrinking. If you have followed any of her work and by work I mean endless-hours-of-unpaid-watchdogging-the-government-to-educate-and-protect-others-so-she-can-take-verbal-abuse-from-people-like-you-so-ashamed-of-their-own-remarks-that-they-comment-under-anonymous then you would know she is loaded with integrity. Our government has lied, cheated, twisted and bribed. They’ve tried to marginalize those of us that would have the truth told. They labeled us misinformed, bullies, uneducated and much worse. As fun as all that may sound – it’s really not and it takes a person of great integrity to stand up to it – it takes a person of superior integrity and faith and dignity and inner strength to face all of that on a daily basis. So the next time you read of something Alisa is doing on your behalf – may I suggest you just say thank you and go on your blissful way.

  11. Anonymous. Please read the Kansas lawsuit against the Next Generation Standards Standards and the Wyoming State Board meeting minutes in my comment above where parents testified of the Godless nature of the NGSS standards. The lead lawyer in Kansas, said this, “Essentially, the Framework and Standards promote every tenet of secular humanism that can be found in the Humanist Manifesto III.” Alisa is not beholden to the USOE’s idea of integrity. They have shown by their actions, that they do not have integrity. They are implementing a federal curriculum program (unbeknownst to most parents) while “staging” review committees to make it appear as if we have local/state control. That is not only unintegrous, but vile. Alisa is beholden to a higher principle—the principle of God-given agency. Which agency will be slowly dismantled if these standards are implemented in Utah.

  12. Over 10 years ago, I worked at the local planetarium (both Hansen and Clark). During that time, the education department was looked to as experts in the field and asked to be on the committee to help in writing and editing and correcting the science in the astronomy and other parts of the science curriculum. At no time was I forced to sign a non-disclosure agreement. We were also given test questions to review. The only thing we were asked was not to give the tests or exact test questions to teachers so they would not teach to the test. The process was not secretive. My, how times have changed!!!

  13. Your experience description is the epitome of what they call the Delphi Technique. It is used to manipulate the pre-determined outcome while making the unsuspected “think” they had input when in fact the desired outcome was already established. I was trained in this technique and can see it a mile away and that is exactly what happened.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.