PA Board of Education Advances to Modernize Science Education

Following more than two years of public input and meetings with education professionals and subject-matter experts to develop content and provide feedback, the State Board of Education received unanimous approval from the Independent Regulatory Review Commission (IRRC) to advance revised science standards that align with current research and best practices.

Revised academic standards

The revised academic standards encompass science, technology, engineering, the environment and ecology, establishing the skills and understanding that students will develop in K-12 schools across the commonwealth.

“Updating our science standards became a priority for the Board after we heard from Pennsylvania educators and from national experts that our current standards for Science and Technology and for Environment and Ecology were no longer aligned with current research and best practices in science education,” said Chair of the Board’s Academic Standards/Chapter 4 Committee Dr. Lee Williams.

“The Board recognized that updating our science standards was essential to help create the conditions for all students to be scientifically, technologically, environmentally, and engineering literate, both to support Pennsylvania’s economic vitality and its civic strength.”

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Pennsylvania’s science standards serve as the basis for locally determined curriculum development and instruction in schools.

The current regulation includes two sets of standards related to science: Science and Technology, and Environment and Ecology. Both sets of standards took effect January 5, 2002.

The new standards will replace the previous ones with three sets of standards:

· Pennsylvania Integrated Standards for Science, Environment, Ecology, Technology and Engineering (Grades K-5);

· Pennsylvania Integrated Standards for Science, Environment and Ecology (Grades 6-12); and

· Pennsylvania Technology and Engineering Standards (Grades 6-12).

New science standards

“These new science standards will support our educators, students, and school communities using transparent, updated language that enables high-quality learning in an ever-changing world,” said Dr. David Volkman, PDE Acting Deputy Secretary for Elementary and Secondary Education.

“In line with these efforts, the Wolf Administration supports the initiative to modernize science standards and align them with best practices so our students can compete in the workforce of the future.”

What’s next

With approval, the final-form regulation goes to the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) for review. Upon approval, the new regulation will be published in the Pennsylvania Bulletin and will take effect July 1, 2025.

How did we get here

Before drafting the new standards, the department held 14 public meetings across the state in early 2020 to solicit stakeholder input, which was summarized in a Landscape Report. PDE then sought volunteer content experts to draft the new standards. The State Board approved 60 education professionals to serve on the Content Committee and an additional 18 individuals to serve on a Steering Committee to work in tandem with the Content Committee in 2020 to develop draft recommendations for updated standards.

The State Board of Education voted to adopt the revised standards as a proposed regulation in September 2020; a public comment period followed in the spring of 2021, and the State Board of Education directed the committees to develop draft recommendations for updated standards according to public feedback. The Board then voted to adopt the final standards, which are reflected in the final-form regulation approved by IRRC.

Updating science standards ensures that all students will learn the skills needed to succeed in the future. During the past seven years, the Wolf Administration has secured $40 million for career and technical education and has invested $116 million in STEM education, an area in which Pennsylvania remains a leaderOpens In A New Window.

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