New science standards approved for Louisiana's K-12 students - FOX29 Lake Charles

New science standards approved for Louisiana's K-12 students

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Louisiana's first new science standards in two decades won final approval this week from the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education after six months of meetings.

The changes are set to take full effect for the 2018-19 public school year. 

"It's been 20 years since we had standards for science that are remarkably different," said Brian Fontenot, middle school science consultant for Calcasieu Parish schools.

Fontenot said the new science guidelines have been a long time coming. 

"A lot of states created new standards about five years ago so we're actually several years behind," said Fontenot.

BESE's stamp of approval comes with the goal of allowing students to study science topics in depth rather than a wide range of subjects. Plus, Fontenot said, "As we've looked not only at the courses but the grades, at what a student should know at each grade, we've tried to make sure engineering is an integral part," he said.

Also attached is a 2008 state law - the Science Education Act - to ensure wide-ranging classroom debates on evolution, global warming and other topics.

"It allows the teacher some freedom in deciding what kind of arguments can take place," explained Fontenot.

Fontenot said that's not necessarily different but he hopes it will up teacher awareness. 

"All across Louisiana, including Calcasieu they may not be aware of that act," said Fontenot.

As far as implementation, Fontenot said it will be done in phases - the upcoming school year to include teacher training.

"Teachers will have at least one year and really going into the next year to learn the new standards and understand what is different in my grade or in my subject," said Fontenot.

And as for textbooks, Fontenot said that's up in the air.

"You might have a seventh-grade teacher with content that is in some of it's in 8th and some of it's in sixth now," said Fontenot.

Overall, the goal is to push more students into science, technology, engineering and mathematics - or STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) jobs. 

"This is an attempt to keep students more interested in science for a longer period of time," said Fontenot. 

Identification of curricula will begin later this year.

The upcoming school year will be used as a transition period, with field tests in the spring of 2018.

Students will face their first meaningful exams on what they know about the revamped benchmarks in the spring of 2019.

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