Sadly, this comment from one of this country’s most noted scientists is most appropriate to the latest action by the Kentucky Board of Education concerning the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS).
With no dissention, the board reaffirmed its support today for the NGSS, an action that now sends these clearly inadequate standards on to the Kentucky Legislature for a final review.
There are many problems with this board action and the NGSS in general, but I’ll touch on just one in this post.
The board fell for the quaint notion that the new standards are right to push process over content.
As Yogi Berra would have put it, it’s déjà vu all over again.
We endured exactly the same process versus content nonsense starting back in 1990 when KERA was enacted. The fact is that Kentucky’s educators have been trying to push the process-trumps-content idea for more than two decades now, and it has never worked.
Sure, we want kids to be able to handle higher order thinking about science, but Kentucky’s students won’t master those advanced skills without first obtaining a core knowledge of scientific facts. Even comments from some of the KBE members today made it clear they understand the NGSS are thin on specifying essential core knowledge.
Process without content is a shadow. It doesn’t work.
In fact, it hasn’t worked very well in Kentucky. After more than two decades of pushing process in Kentucky, the NAEP Data Explorer shows the state’s white eighth grade students only statistically significantly outscored students in just four other states, Oklahoma, Mississippi, Alabama and West Virginia, on the National Assessment of Educational Progress 2011 science test.
If we look only at performance for whites eligible for the federal free and reduced cost lunch program, Kentucky’s poor whites only outscored poor whites in just two states – Alabama and West Virginia.
Overall, after 23 years of promises from KERA and all that process-over-content stuff, just 37 percent of Kentucky’s white eighth grade students scored proficient or above on NAEP science in 2011.
The Kentucky Board of Education’s ‘edufad’ ideas have never worked before, and there is no reason to expect a sudden miracle after 23 years of trying. And, it doesn’t take an Einstein to figure this out.