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S.C. Measure Prohibits Adoption of Common Science Standards

As efforts press forward to develop common science standards, it appears that South Carolina won't be signing on any time soon. The state legislature yesterday adopted a budget plan that contains language expressly prohibiting the state from using funds to "participate in, implement, adopt, or promote" the so-called Next Generation Science Standards.

In budget letters to legislative committees, South Carolina state Superintendent Mick Zais made clear that he supports this language in the budget package.

"I support these provisos," he wrote. "The state's science standards received a rating of 'A-minus' from the [Thomas B.] Fordham Institute, one of only six states to receive a grade of A or A-minus. I see no need to relinquish control of our science content to a quasi-national set of standards."

The budget language is only in effect for one year, but it sends a pretty clear signal about the state's appetite for common science standards.

It remains unclear how many states will ultimately adopt the science standards, though more than half—26 in all—are participating as "lead state partners" in their development.

Officials in Texas and Virginia, two states that took a pass on the Common Core State Standards in English/language arts and mathematics, recently told me their states were not planning to adopt the common science standards.

A first public draft of the Next Generation Science Standards went out for public comment in May. The standards are expected to be finalized next year.

Just yesterday, I blogged about some critical comments from the Fordham Institute and the National Science Teachers Association on the standards as currently crafted. However, both of those groups are supportive of the effort to develop common science standards. (In fact, the NSTA is also a partner in developing them.)

Although South Carolina did adopt the Common Core State Standards in English/language arts and mathematics, that action has faced some pushback in the state, though a bill to halt implementation failed to win passage. The author had vowed to insert language in the larger budget plan to block the common-core standards, but no such language was contained in the final budget proviso as adopted.

I should note that officials in neighboring North Carolina originally signaled to me that the state would take a pass on the science standards, not because they were shared standards across states, but because North Carolina had recently adopted its own revised standards. However, after further considering the matter (and apparently some strong encouragement from proponents of STEM education in the state), North Carolina reversed course and became one of the 26 lead states to help craft the standards.

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