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February 19, 2008
State Board of Education Approves Optional Revised Science Sunshine State Standards
TALLAHASSEE - The State Board of Education (SBE) today approved the optional revised Science Sunshine State Standards (SSS) in a four to three vote. The optional standards consistently applied the terms “scientific theory” and “law of” to all appropriate areas throughout the document. Based on leading national and international science standards, the revised Science SSS incorporate the latest scientific research, concepts, and techniques that form the educational foundation for students to compete in the global economy of the future. District science curriculum will be aligned to the revised standards beginning in the 2008-09 school year and the Science Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test (FCAT) will begin testing students on the material in 2012.
“As a former science teacher, I cannot stress enough the importance of a focused, well-designed set of standards for scientific instruction in the classroom,” said Education Commissioner Eric J. Smith. “Florida’s students continue to make significant learning gains, and these standards will give our teachers a firm understanding of what our students need to learn to be competitive in today’s workforce and will make Florida a true leader in science education.”
The revised Science SSS were developed by a committee of educators, scientists, business leaders, school administrators and other key stakeholders through a comprehensive, year-long drafting and review process that began in May 2007. As part of that process, more than 10,000 individuals provided more than 260,000 ratings and 20,000 comments via a Web-based system. In addition, the Department of Education (DOE) held five public hearings throughout the state (Tallahassee, Jacksonville, Miramar and two in Orlando) to collect public feedback on the standards.
The feedback received through the Web-based system and public hearings was compiled and provided to committee members for their consideration. The committee was also presented with input from expert reviewers such as the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the Florida Association of Science Supervisors, the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Committee and numerous community college and university science educators. SBE members also received copies of all public and expert input to use during their deliberations.
Highlights of the revised standards include:
- Subject matter that is based on top science standards in the nation and the world.
- Content drafted by a diverse committee of scientists, science educators and other stakeholders.
- Multiple independent reviews by experts such as the National Center of Research’s Board of Science Education and the Thomas B. Fordham Institute.
- Refined set of topics for grades K-8 to encourage critical thinking and problem solving approaches to learning.
- More focused content for high schools to guide course instruction so students leave school prepared to enter postsecondary education or the workforce.
The Sunshine State Standards were first approved in 1996 as a means of identifying academic expectations for student achievement in Florida. As Florida moved toward higher standards for student achievement at each grade level, the DOE recognized the need for a systemic approach to review and revise all the academic standards. In January 2006, the SBE adopted a schedule for the regular review and revision of all K-12 standards. In addition to today’s approval of the Science SSS, the SBE previously approved the revised Reading and Language Arts SSS in January 2007, and the revised Mathematics SSS in September 2007.