MREA encourages lawmakers to consider a state law change to allow all four disciplinary core ideas, including engineering, to be benchmark areas in the science standards for students in grades 9-12. The Minnesota Science Standards Committee sought feedback on a first draft of the 2019 K-12 Science Standards and will review comments received at a Dec. 12 meeting.
MREA Executive Director Fred Nolan encouraged the state to amend the benchmarks statute 120B.023 that states, “Schools must offer and students must achieve all benchmarks for an academic standard to satisfactorily complete that state standard” by adding that high school students must meet the benchmarks in biology, physics or chemistry, and one elective set of benchmarks from the following: physical sciences, life sciences, earth and space sciences or engineering, or technology and the applications of science. Schools must offer at least two of these elective sets of benchmarks.
Minnesota faces a well-documented skilled-worker shortage and Minnesota Academic Standards currently hold high schools back from providing the education and training needed to effectively prepare students for their future jobs. Today’s system operates on a one-size fits all approach for students no matter their plans after graduation.
The recommended change would allow a branching of scientific fields in high school that do justice to each discipline and allow students to personalize their scientific investigations in their required career and college planning. This would benefit both science education and to begin to break up the “one-size-fits-all” approach the standards movement has brought to high school education. This is especially needed as Minnesota moves to having schools prepare students for a variety career and college pathways.
This modest proposal should gain bi-partisan support and aligns with MREA’s platform on career and college readiness flexibility.