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Six More States Sign On to Help Craft New Science Standards

It looks like they're going to need a bigger table, and some extra chairs, to write those new science standards.

If you thought 20 states was an awful lot to play a "lead" role in crafting the standards, brace yourself. Today, we learned that six more are joining in the fun: Arkansas, Delaware, Illinois, Montana, North Carolina, and Oregon, according to an announcement from Achieve, the Washington-based group facilitating the effort.

"A majority of the states, educating more than 50 percent of our nation's students, have committed to developing the Next Generation Science Standards, and they should be commended," Achieve's president, Michael Cohen, said in the press release.

I should note that when the standards process was first getting under way, we reported that Achieve was planning on having a much smaller group of states play a lead role in writing the standards, though certainly the hope was that most, if not all, states would weigh in and eventually embrace them. (Later, this approach was revised in favor of a "the more the merrier" outlook.)

I should also note that just because a state agrees to join those taking the lead in writing the standards, it's still not committed to adopting them, though the participating states are expected to "give serious consideration to adopting" them, Achieve says.

We also got a couple of announcements today from states about their participation.

"Last year, Oregon joined over 45 other states in adopting the common-core state standards, raising the bar with national learning expectations for English/language arts and mathematics," said Oregon state Superintendent Susan Castillo. "I am excited we are now engaged in the work of developing national, college- and career-ready science standards aligned with the common core."

"Just as Delaware took a leadership role in writing national common-core mathematics and English/language arts standards, it is important for our science educators to have a hand in this groundwork," said that state's secretary of education, Lillian M. Lowery.

The states are working in partnership with the National Research Council, the National Science Teachers Association, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science to develop the new standards. Last summer, an NRC panel of experts wrapped up work on a framework to guide the development of the standards. The framework identifies the core ideas and practices in the natural sciences and engineering that all students should know by the time they graduate. Now, the work under way is looking to put some flesh on those bones.

Drafts of the science standards will be made available for public input "at least twice" during the development process, Achieve says.

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