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Early Science-Standards Adopters May Include Kentucky, Maine

Maine and Kentucky may well be two of the states to act most quickly on adopting the final Next Generation Science Standards issued this week.

Maine's state board of education anticipates voting on the standards later this spring, according to a press release from the state education agency. Kentucky's state board is planning a vote on provisional adoption of the standards in June. In fact, Kentucky is currently scheduled to implement the standards in the 2014-15 academic year, with the first assessments anticipated for the spring of 2015, a press release says.

Some readers may recall that Kentucky was early out of the gate in adopting the Common Core State Standards. As a matter of fact, its state board actually voted to adopt the mathematics and English/language arts standards before they had even been finalized.

Maine and Kentucky are among the 26 "lead state partners" in developing the new science standards. All 26 lead states have agreed to seriously consider adopting the standards. Some non-lead states may well follow suit. (For an early analysis of the adoption question and the prospects for state action, check out this Education Week story from a few months ago.)

Republican Gov. Paul R. LePage of Maine said the new standards will support his state's push for an increased focus on STEM education.

"Our goal is the preparation of students for college and/or careers," he said in the press release from the Maine department of education. "We cannot do that with outdated standards. Not only must the information be up to date, so must the concepts and the way we teach them."

The Kentucky news release quotes a science teacher praising the standards.

"The NGSS meld science content with science practices in a way that allows students to experience science as a way of knowing and understanding the world around them," said Ken Mattingly, who teaches science at Rockcastle County Middle School.

Nancy Rodriquez, a spokeswoman for the Kentucky education department, explained in an email what the process will look like in moving from provisional to final adoption of the standards.

"If the board votes to approve the standards at its June meeting, the standards will move through the traditional regulatory process," she said. "That likely will involve a public hearing followed by a review by legislative committees. Depending on the feedback from the hearing and the action of the legislative committees, the standards could be enacted or they could come back to the Kentucky Board of Education for changes."

Meanwhile, Washington state may adopt the standards as soon as this summer, I learned this week from Ellen Ebert, the science director for that state's education agency. And California's state board is expected to vote on the standards next fall.

From what I've been hearing, some other states also may well take action this year on the standards. Stay tuned.

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