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For Release: July 2, 2002


FACT SHEET   July 2, 2002

Science

In science, two life science areas were combined. In addition, emphasis on technology was added.

Summary

New Jersey’s Core Curriculum Content Standards for science reflect the belief that all students can and must learn enough science to assume their role as concerned citizens, equipped with necessary information and decision-making skills. The need for scientific literacy in today's increasingly technological world, for fundamental reforms in how science is taught, and for established standards in science education are by now well known and documented. Presidential appeals for excellence, combined with expressions of concern from scientists and educators, have led to national, state, and local initiatives. New Jersey is host to an impressive array of scientific and technological industries, and should play a leadership role in the development and implementation of standards for the teaching and learning of science.

Recommendations Incorporated In Standards

Much had occurred since the 1996, when the original standards were adopted. New Jersey was joined by nearly every state in the nation in formulating rigorous academic standards as part of a growing national interest in educational reform. This resulted in the availability of several national surveys that acknowledged the excellence of our science standards but more importantly served to inform the review panel. Particularly useful was a comprehensive research project conducted by the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) that provided a framework for the benchmarking of the New Jersey standards. In addition, a detailed assessment of New Jersey’s science standards was reported by Achieve, Inc. Additionally, the revisions were influenced by the ongoing work of the organizations that were at the forefront of the science standards movement, particularly the Atlas for Science Literacy published by AAAS in 2001.

The revised science standards are not intended to include all of science, but rather are an attempt to define what all students should understand and be able to apply as they grow towards scientific literacy. A guiding principle of these standards is that an understanding of fundamental scientific principles and the development of science-related skills are not limited by gender, economic status, cultural background, or ability. While New Jersey recognizes the need for the inclusion of fundamental understandings in the life, earth and space, and physical sciences, the development of critical thinking skills is considered of paramount importance. Also important are safe practices, the attitudes students display as they learn science, and the development of qualities inherent in the practice of science, such as curiosity, skepticism, open-mindedness, and honesty when collecting and interpreting findings. While these habits of mind cannot be measured easily, no science program can be considered complete or successful that does not promote them.

Science should be taught at all levels with awareness of its connection to other subjects and the needs of society. While the standards do not suggest a specific curriculum design or sequence of courses, they assume that the relationship of the various disciplines of science to each other, and of science to the overall learning experience, will be strongly emphasized. The grade clustering system implemented in the current version of the standards reflects developmental appropriateness of the content and skills to provide guidance for developmentally appropriate implementation. The standards also emphasize the needs of the students and teachers of New Jersey to incorporate the state’s natural resources in the teaching of science as they move towards implementation.