The Minnesota Science Standards Review Committee finalized a new set of recommended Standards and Benchmarks to be fully implemented in the 2023-24 school year. The Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) now will seek comments for 60 days prior to formal rule making regarding the new science standards.
The three pages of standards are just the tip of the iceberg. The growler below the surface is the 51-page document of benchmarks that will become required for all schools and students when the standards become rule. The benchmarks are not up for formal comment now. Committee put out several drafts in their process and took comment.
The committee and the commissioner are recommending to rulemaking that full implementation of the standards be in the 2023-24 school year. This is the year that the Minnesota Comprehensive Assessment (MCA-IV) will begin to assess these standards and benchmarks.
The K-12 Science Standards going to rulemaking are a rewrite of the science and engineering practices found on page 1 of the Science Committee’s recommendations to the Education Commissioner.
- Asking questions (for science) and defining problems (for engineering)
- Developing and using models
- Planning and carrying out investigations
- Analyzing and interpreting data
- Using mathematics and computational thinking
- Constructing explanations (for science) and designing solutions (for engineering)
- Engaging in argument from evidence
- Obtaining, evaluating, and communicating information
According to MDE, Minnesota is a lead state in the development of the Next Generation of Science Standards. This is a cooperative effort of several states to provide standards that could be adopted by all states. The standards are based on A Framework for K-12 Science Education developed by the National Research Council. The framework sets the vision for science education and identifies science and engineering practices, core disciplinary ideas, and cross-cutting concepts.
Besides the science and engineering practices that will become the standards, the benchmarks are organized by Disciplinary Core Ideas which are the subjects by which science teachers are licensed. There is no Minnesota secondary general science license.
- Physical Sciences
- Life Sciences
- Earth and Space Science
- Engineering, Technology, and the Applications of Science
The benchmarks are organized by individual grade level K-8 and a secondary 9-12 section. In grades K-5 all four of these Disciplinary Core Ideas (DCI) have Content Benchmarks at each grade level. This changes in grades 6-8 to one disciplinary idea per grade level.
- Grade 6: Earth and Space Sciences
- Grade 7: Life Sciences
- Grade 8: Physical Sciences
In grades 9-12 there are relatively equal numbers of benchmarks for
- Earth and Space Sciences
- Life Sciences
- Physical sciences.
There is a smaller set of chemistry benchmarks. Engineering, Technology, and the Applications of Science is not listed in any separate content benchmark after grade 5.
MREA recommends that member districts carefully examine the recommended standards and benchmarks for changes that will be necessary by ’23-24 to implement the proposed standards and benchmarks, and use this comment period to share your analysis with MDE.