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November 20, 2017
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Stillwater News

Stillwater teachers preparing for new New York State Science Learning Standards

May 6, 2016 – While teachers try their best to make science and learning as fun and exciting as they can, there are also guidelines they must adhere to throughout the curriculum to ensure that students are learning the necessary concepts. With the state’s existing science standards being nearly 20 years old, state education leaders say new, updated standards, which are currently being revised by the Board of Regents, are needed. These new standards will expose students to modern knowledge and advances in science, so that students are better prepared to pursue college and career pathways.

Standards are essentially a set of educational goals and expectations for what students should be learning in school. School districts create curriculum based on the state’s learning standards, and then teachers develop classroom lesson plans based on this curriculum.

In January 2015, a Statewide Strategic Plan for Science and P-12 Science Learning Standards was created as a guide for how to develop and implement these new science standards. The plan called for a review of the “Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS),” which were released in 2013 as part of the National Research Council’s “A Framework for K-12 Science Education.” The NGSS developed by a team of science education stakeholders from 26 states- including New York.

In December 2015, a draft of the new standards was released in order to receive feedback from the parents and educators across New York. Since then, Stillwater Central School District has been preparing for the new standards in anticipation of the final draft being adopted and implemented by the state in the coming years.

Since last May, teachers in grades four through eight have taken part in a variety of conferences and professional development courses, both in house and through BOCES. They are looking for ways to help them bridge the gap between the elementary and middle school curriculums, as well as work on making sure a common language is being used districtwide.

“Teachers have been working on aligning curriculum both vertically and horizontally to address both buildings with transitioning to the new standards. As always, we want to put our students in the best possible situation for continued success here at Stillwater,” said Stillwater Assistant Principal Paul Morcone.

The district is hoping to stay ahead of the game when it comes to preparing for the new standards by taking steps forward in the classroom with hands-on learning. For example, a set of kits from the Boston Museum of Science, which focus on and introduce engineering into the science curriculum, were bought thanks to funding from the Stillwater Educational Foundation. The kits are currently being piloted in fifth and sixth grade. Students in seventh and eighth grade will begin using them next year.

“The Stillwater Educational Foundation realizes that in this era of quickly advancing technology it is extremely important to keep our students competitive with larger, more affluent school districts,” said Patti Griffiths, Chairperson for the Stillwater Educational Foundation. “These kits will expose students to real-world problems in which they will work on scientific solutions in a small group setting. It is our hope that this exposure will encourage students to eventually partake in the high school's Project Lead the Way course offerings.”

District officials say they’ll continue to keep a close eye on the state’s decisions and Stillwater teachers will continue to work together to develop and implement a curriculum for that will set students up for success.

Teachers doing science experiment

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