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West Virginia Adopts Common Science Standards, With Modifications on Climate Change

Last month, West Virginia joined 12 states and the District of Columbia in adopting the Next Generation Science Standards—but not without first making a few tweaks to the standards' language about climate change.

The science standards, which emphasize application, scientific inquiry, and engineering design, were developed by 26 lead state partners, including West Virginia, and released in April 2013.

The Charleston Gazette reports that state school board member Wade Linger pushed for several changes to be made to the standards. "There was a question in there that said: 'Ask questions to clarify evidence of the factors that have caused the rise in global temperatures over the past century,' " Linger said, according to the paper. "... [T]hat presupposes that global temperatures have risen over the past century, and, of course, there's debate about that."

The new standards language asks 6th grade students "to clarify evidence of the factors that have caused the rise and fall in global temperature over the past century." (Emphasis added.)

Another change to the standards, the newspaper pointed out, is within a high school standard on weather and climate. The original NGSS document asks students to: "Analyze geoscience data and the results from global climate models to make an evidence-based forecast of the current rate of global or regional climate change and associated future impacts to Earth systems." The West Virginia standards, as written, ask students to: "Analyze geoscience data and the predictions made by computer climate models to assess their creditability [sic] for predicting future impacts on the Earth System."

In a phone interview regarding the modifications, Chad Colby, the director of communications for Achieve, which helped develop the Next Generation Science Standards, told me that "states have the right to make any changes they want, and often they do that during the board meetings."

The West Virginia board is titling the standards "Next Generation Content Standards and Objectives for Science in West Virginia Schools." For our purposes of keeping track of adoptions, we'll add them to the map of NGSS adopters (below). 

Prior to this adoption, the most recent state adoption—New Jersey—took place in July 2014. Here's a timeline of state adoptions. For more background on why the common science standards have been slow to catch on in states, see this previous story

And just a head's up, we're hearing Michigan may be close to adopting as well. We'll keep you updated if/when that happens. 


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