As I stared at our science standards’ new D grade from the Fordham Foundation, I had vague recollections that a couple of Fordham’s reviewers had looked over the standards back when they were being revised. They were quite enthused by what they saw then, I thought. So, I dug through my archives and turned up those comments from a few years ago. Lawrence Lerner said the standards looked like a B to him.
Evaluated with the same methods he has used to assess science standards for over a decade, the current draft would earn a high B. Lerner is delighted: “This draft already represents a dramatic improvement across the board. With a little bit of extra effort, Florida could bring that up to an A.”
Paul Gross didn’t offer a grade, but did say he liked what he saw (from St. Petersburg Times 11/30/07 article):
Gross agreed to review the standards as an individual and not as a Fordham representative. But as a scientist, he was impressed: “Clearly, the writing committee, whoever they are, have taken to heart all the arguments that have been made about lousy standards,” he said.
“The organization of the plan is entirely respectable, and it pays attention to all the national models,” said Gross. “There’s not a lot of fluff in it.”
Darn. I guess we needed to be cautious in our enthusiasm over unofficial reviews.
Meanwhile, at Paul Cottle’s blog Bridge to Tomorrow, he takes some personal responsibility for letting mistakes slip into the Florida standards. He was on the writing committee and is now slapping his forehead as he reads through the current Fordham report. But he also notes that both time and resources were in short supply during the standards writing process. This then leads Cottle to recommend that Florida seriously consider joining other states in the common core science standards project. Those folks have taken the time necessary and have the proper resources to get the job done right. I completely agree. But Cottle doesn’t seem hopeful that it will happen.
Education Week’s Curruculm Matters blog has a good summary of the Forham report. At least Florida gets credit for treating evolution right, including human evolution.
The report indicates that only four states—Florida, New Hampshire, Iowa, and Rhode Island—openly embrace human evolution in their current science standards.