Pennsylvania Initiates Review of Science Standards to Modernize Curriculum

September 12, 2019

Harrisburg, PA – Governor Tom Wolf is commending the State Board of Education which this week directed the Department of Education (PDE) to begin the process of updating Pennsylvania’s science standards to align them with current research and best practices, including a review of Next Generation Science Standards.

“As technology continues to advance, science is increasingly part of our education, work, and lives in a changing economy,” said Governor Wolf. “My administration is making significant investments in science education through PAsmart, and we must also modernize our science standards in schools, so our students have the knowledge and skills for good careers in emerging industries. This is an important step forward and I have asked the Department of Education to work closely with the State Board of Education throughout the process.”

As part of his commitment to science and technology education, the governor launched the innovative PAsmart initiative last year. The $40 million program supports K-12 computer science and STEM education, registered apprenticeships, and job training. Pennsylvania is among the national leaders in STEM funding and now ranks second in the country for investments in K-12 computer science education, according to the Education Commission of the States.

Last year, the governor also successfully encouraged the State Board of Education to endorse computer science standards for K-12 to foster the alignment of instruction for students throughout the commonwealth.

Currently, the state Board of Education regulations include two sets of standards related to science – Science and Technology & Environment and Ecology. Both sets of standards took effect on January 5, 2002. Science standards serve as the basis for curriculum development and instruction in schools.

As part of its review, PDE will examine the state’s current standards, outline the various components that must be addressed when changing regulations, and develop a proposed timeline for making the changes.

“The Board of Education’s new Master Plan states that updating science standards will be a priority in the coming years,” said Board Chairperson Karen Farmer White. “Following a discussion about the current state of the science standards, the board agreed that the department should begin the review process.”

The board initiated the review following an informational presentation by Penn State professor Dr. Carla Zembal-Saul on the status of science standards across the country. Dr. Zembal-Saul serves as the Kahn Professor of STEM Education at Penn State.

“Our goal is to provide the best framework possible to prepare all students to be productive citizens of the Commonwealth,” said Matt Stem, PDE Deputy Secretary for Elementary and Secondary Education.” The Wolf administration recognizes that expanding access to computer science and STEM education has been critical for preparing our students for an ever-changing workforce. In line with these efforts, Gov. Wolf supports the initiative to update science standards.”

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