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Florida's New Science Standards Q&A

Also see: Web References for Science Teachers

A brand new set of state science standards was approved by the Florida Board of Education Feb. 2008. We here at Florida Citizens for Science have been getting questions from teachers about these standards. Below are some questions and answers you may find useful. This information was provided by Florida Citizens for Science board member Debra Walker. Debra helped write the new science standards and is a county school board member.

I am about to begin teaching 6th, 7th, and 8th grade science. Do you know of any resources for lesson plans that address the new Florida science standards?

Florida Citizens for Science has compiled a list of resources for you:
Web References for Science Teachers.

Check with your school about how they want to transition to the new standards. If every grade level was to change at once, some kids will miss out on topics that they would have gotten in the old schedule. All three years are tested on science FCAT in 8th grade, so you need to be sure they cover all the standards by that time in 8th grade. The new standards and old standards will have a lot in common. My district is changing one year at a time and is going to do the course description that have earth life and physical science taught in grades 6-7-8 because that is what our texts that we have to send home do, and we just got new textbooks. So you need to ask about all these things and check on what resources are available to you before deciding what standards you are teaching where. There are course descriptions on the Internet that do earth - life - and physical science or comprehensive science.

Once you make those decisions you need to make some kind of curriculum map for the year for each class that tells you where to address each standard. I actually use a calendar and map it out that way and then write my weekly lesson plans from that large curriculum map.

When will the new standards be implemented?

Teachers will began implementing the new standards now, perhaps in stages, depending on the district.

How will they be integrated into, or replace the old standards?

Each district is charged with implementation, so it might be different from district to district.

How long will this process take?

The new science FCATS will take three years to implement. Course descriptions are being rewritten now based on the new standards. Tests will be developed and piloted based on these.

Have any of the new textbooks been selected/purchased yet?

The textbook process will take a couple of years as well. We generally have a six year cycle, but this one is being short-cycled, so that new texts are available the first year the new standards will be tested on FCAT: 2011-2012.

Is there any Personal Development Programs available, or currently being used to upgrade teaching skills to the new standards?

The Florida Dept. of Education is targeting 7th grade science this year with summer training, the first year human evolution is introduced as a major component. Other components will no doubt be developed at the state level. Districts will also develop their own training opportunities.

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