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Thursday, September 25, 2008

Will Texas Strengthen its Science Standards?

The Texas Education Agency has released proposed drafts of the state's new science standards, adopting stronger scientific language. The new curriculum standards would remove language that requires students to critique the "strengths and weaknesses" of scientific theories like evolution. Instead, students would be required to “analyze and evaluate scientific explanations using empirical evidence, logical reasoning, and experimental and observational testing.”
The draft also includes an addition adapted from the book Science, Evolution, and Creationism, published this year by the National Academy of Sciences and the Institute of Medicine. It reads: "Science uses observational evidence to make predictions of natural phenomena and to construct testable explanations. If ideas are based upon purported forces outside of nature, they cannot be tested using scientific methods.” This new language would help keep supernatural and religious concepts, like creationism and "intelligent design," out of the science classroom.
It's expected there'll be an expert review of the proposed standards and that the agency will also solicit public comments. The draft will then be revised and submitted to the State Board of Education for approval. —Heather Wax