Science Curriculum Kindergarten Through Grade 12

   Mission and Goals

Elements of a Strong Science Program

 1.   EquityExcellence in science education requires equityhigh expectations and strong support for all students.

a.  All aspects of the program will include a focus on eliminating disparities in achievement related to race, class, and gender.

b. Conceptual understanding and skills of scientific inquiry will be expected of all students.

c. Every student will be expected to complete a minimum of two years of laboratory science courses in high school.  Students are encouraged to take four years of Science; and the four basic Sciences and elective courses are available each year.

2.    CurriculumA curriculum is more than a collection of activities: it must be coherent and well articulated across the grades.

a.  “Big ideas” will be identified, the key enduring conceptual understandings that we want students to acquire at each grade span.

b. Topics will be identified in accordance with state as well as national standards, such as the current Massachusetts Science and Technology/Engineering Curriculum Frameworks,   the Benchmarks for Science Literacy: Project 2061 of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (1993), and the National Science Education Standards of the National Research Council (1996). 

c. The curriculum will include topics that adequately prepare students to transition smoothly from one level to the next, i.e. from grade to grade, course to course, school to school.

d.  Consistent with the District BAMSS Goals (Becoming a Multicultural School System), the curriculum will lead students to learn about Science from a global perspective that includes multiple points of view.

3.      AssessmentAssessment should support the learning of science and furnish useful information to both teachers and students.

a.  Assessments will be designed to provide acceptable evidence of enduring understanding.

b.  Assessment will be used to guide instruction.

c.  Ongoing and individualized assessments will be developed with rubrics to assess achievement.

d.  Multiple assessment strategies and tools will be aligned with the curriculum. These may include assessments of student products, oral and written communication skills, and laboratory techniques.    

e.  In order to ensure District-wide consistency in the Science curriculum, efforts will be initiated to develop common assessments for each unit, grade, or course.  These assessments will identify student acquisition of the key conceptual understandings and procedural skills needed for  transition to the next level.

 4.    InstructionEffective science teaching requires first, understanding what students know and need to learn,  and then, challenging and supporting them to learn it well.

a. Teachers will provide instruction designed to teach for understanding.

b.  Teachers will use a variety of instructional strategies and modalities, especially recognizing the importance of hands-on learning in Science.

c.  Instruction will be differentiated so that the needs of learners who take more time than most of their peers to learn science and those who demonstrate understanding in other ways than most of their peers will be successful.

d.  Science concepts will be taught in depth, with focused re-teaching as needed.

e.  Time allotted to the teaching and learning of science will be established to provide consistency among grades and across schools.

f. Both content and process skills will be taught and assessed.

g. Science vocabulary in context will be explicitly taught.

h.  Recognizing the underrepresentation of women and people of color in the Sciences, teachers will be attentive to the importance of encouraging and supporting students in these populations. 

 5.   Professional DevelopmentEffective, ongoing professional development will provide time to deepen teachers’ knowledge of science, increase their abilities to instruct effectively, and strengthen their skills in assessing student conceptual understanding and process skills. 

a.  Professional development will be provided so that teachers at all levels acquire in-depth understanding of science.

b.  Professional development focused on “teaching for understanding” will be provided.  Such training shall be based on the most current research on teaching for Science proficiency.

c.  Professional development will be provided so that teachers develop appropriate student assessments. 

d.  Professional development will include review of curricular materials and how to use them to implement the philosophy of our revised science program.

e.  Professional development will provide training for teachers on how to address the special challenges faced by students in underrepresented groups in the sciences.

 6.   Supervision and Evaluation of StaffEffective supervision and evaluation provide high expectations and strong support for all teachers and administrators.

a.  Professional development will be provided to administrators so that they acquire proficiency in supervision of the teaching of science.

b.  Professional development for administrators will include sharing successful practices within schools and across the District.  

7.    Program EvaluationEffective evaluation uses multiple sources of data to furnish evidence of the extent to which the K-12 science program enables students to develop conceptual understandings and process skills.  

a.   Program evaluation will examine student learning through multiple sources of information with regard to eliminating disparities in achievement related to race, class, and gender. 

b.   Program evaluation will regularly examine the curriculum for its articulation from grade to grade, course to course, and school to school; its consistency with state and national standards; and the extent to which it supports the development of conceptual understanding and process skills. 

c.   Program evaluation will regularly evaluate instruction and assessment with regard to meeting the goal of science proficiency for all students.

d.   Program evaluation will develop effective evaluative methods in order to determine if our science program is meeting its goals.

Why the Study of Science is Important

Our philosophy drawn from and in agreement with the following:

  1. National Science Education Standards by the National Research Council (made up of members from National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine), 1996

    Goals for School Science

    The goals for school science that underlie the National Science Education Standards are to educate students who are able to

    • experience the richness and excitement of knowing about and understanding the natural world;
    • use appropriate scientific processes and principles in making personal decisions;
    • engage intelligently in public discourse and debate about matters of scientific and technological concern; and
    • increase their economic productivity through the use of the knowledge, understanding, and skills of the scientifically literate person in their careers.

    These goals define a scientifically literate society.

  2. Science for All Americans by the American Association for the Advancement of Science, 1990

    The Need for Science Literacy

    …Science education—meaning education in science, mathematics, and technology—should help students to develop the understandings and habits of mind they need to become compassionate human beings able to think for themselves and to face life head on. It should equip them also to participate thoughtfully with fellow citizens in building and protecting a society that is open, decent, and vital.

    What the future holds in store for individual human beings, the nation, and the world depends largely on the wisdom with which humans use science and technology. And that, in turn, depends on the character, distribution, and effectiveness of the education that people receive. Briefly put, the national council’s argument is this:

    Science, energetically pursued, can provide humanity with the knowledge of the biophysical environment and of social behavior needed to develop effective solutions to its global and local problems; without that knowledge, progress toward a safe world will be unnecessarily handicapped.

    By emphasizing and explaining the dependency of living things on each other and on the physical environment, science fosters the kind of intelligent respect for nature that should inform decisions on the uses of technology; without that respect, we are in danger of recklessly destroying our life-support system.

    Scientific habits of mind can help people in every walk of life to deal sensibly with problems that often involve evidence, quantitative considerations, logical arguments, and uncertainty; without the ability to think critically and independently, citizens are easy prey to ...purveyors of simple solutions to complex problems.

    Technological principles relating to such topics as the nature of systems, the importance of feedback and control, the cost-benefit-risk relationship, and the inevitability of side effects give people a sound basis for assessing the use of new technologies and their implications for the environment and culture; without an understanding of those principles, people are unlikely to move beyond consideration of their own immediate self-interest.

    Although many pressing global and local problems have technological origins, technology provides the tools for dealing with such problems, and the instruments for generating, through science, crucial new knowledge...

    The life-enhancing potential of science and technology cannot be realized unless the public in general comes to understand science, mathematics, and technology and to acquire scientific habits of mind. Without a science-literate population, the outlook for a better world is not promising.

revised 5/4/07

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