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Massachusetts Students Need Deeper Science Education, Not Another MCAS Test

A group of scientists and science educators issued a statement on Thursday, May 26 urging the Massachusetts Board of Education to vote against instituting the state’s standardized test in science (MCAS) as a high school graduation requirement.

In the statement the group, which includes science professors from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard University, education professors, secondary science teachers, and developers of science curricula, write “ The proposal from the State Department of Education to institute a science MCAS test as a high school graduation requirement will undermine quality science education. It runs counter to the recommendations of the great majority of professional groups with expertise in science teaching and learning. High stakes exams are among the most effective means of alienating students from science. Such tests replace direct experience, observation, and performance with rote learning and drill-and-kill methodologies . . . The proposal from the Dept. of Education will not raise the standard for science education; rather it will almost certainly lower the quality of the instruction. The multiple areas of science and technology are too important for our economy and society to be related to one-size-fits-all standardized tests.”

To read more, visit http://www.parentscare.org.

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National Academy Report Calls for Overhaul of Teacher Education

The National Academy of Education has released a 112-page report urging Congress to pay for the development of a national teacher test that could be incorporated into state-licensing requirements and makes other specific recommendations to strengthen teacher education, including strengthening accreditation programs and more funding. “A Good Teacher in Every Classroom,” says that by the end of their studies “prospective teachers should have basic knowledge of how to design learning activities that make subjects accessible to all students, including those with disabilities and limited knowledge of English; assess what students know and be able to revise plans given the findings; create “a respectful, purposeful learning environment”; and work with parents and colleagues to make schools better places for learning,” reports Education Week. “In every occupation that has become a profession, there’s been a moment in history that professional associations and others have said, ‘We have to develop a common core of knowledge for professional preparation to ensure that people who come into the profession have what they need,’ ” said Linda Darling-Hammond, one of the report’s two editors and an education professor at Stanford University. “It’s time to get serious about the teaching side of the teaching-learning equation.” To read the Education Week article, visit http://www.edweek.org (free registration required). For more information on the report, visit http://www.nae.nyu.edu.

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Free June Web Seminars Feature NASA Mars Update, Exercise and Nutrition in Space Travel; NSTA Press Authors Page Keeley and Bill Robertson Also Scheduled

The NSTA Institute continues its calendar of NSTA Press and NASA professional development opportunities with five interactive Web Seminars in June. This Wednesday, June 1, from 6:30-8 p.m., Page Keeley, author of Science Curriculum Topic Study (CTS): Bridging the Gap Between Standards and Practice will discuss how CTS can be used to understand instructional implications of inquiry. On Thursday, June 2, and on Thursday, June 23, from 6:30-8 p.m., scientists with NASA’s Johnson Space Center will present Human Effects of Space Flight, focusing on exercise and nutrition respectively.

Also in June will be presentations by Bill Robertson, popular author of the Stop Faking It! Finally Understanding Science So You Can Teach It book series, discussing Force & Motion on June 9; NASA’s Mars Education Program Director will present a Mars mission update and discussion on robotics on June 16. These online events are presented at no cost, but because participation is limited, advance registration is strongly advised. (NSTA will e-mail a reminder to registrants for future seminars just prior to the event date). For a full schedule and description of seminar topics and dates (all times are EST), and to register, visit http://www.nsta.org/pd/institute.aspxseminar_reg.asp.

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American Museum of Natural History (AMNH) Online Summer Courses Filling as Registration Close Nears

The Museum’s award-winning online professional development program, Seminars on Science, offers eight Standards-based courses for teachers for up to four graduate credits. Summer courses in the life, Earth, and physical sciences run June 27-August 6 and include in-depth science, convenient web access, and rich discussions with Museum scientists in a networked community of teachers.

Earth: Inside and Out, one of AMNH’s most popular courses, examines the dynamic geological events and systems that have shaped the planet and make it habitable. Other summer ’05 courses explore current research and recent discoveries in physics, the ocean system, molecular biology, paleontology, and other topics. Courses are filling fast and registration closes June 13. For more information on all summer courses, to take a “Course Tour,” and to register, go to http://learn.amnh.org/welcome.php?w=NSTAE.

Seminars on Science won, for a second time, a Codie Award for Best Postsecondary Instructional/Curriculum Solution from the Software Information Industry Association.

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New Teacher or Wise Veteran…Our Book for the June Online Sale Is Perfect How-to Manual

Help! I’m Teaching Middle School Science—our June online special sale title—has been an NSTA Press best seller almost from the moment we introduced it. And starting Wednesday and throughout the month of June, you can purchase it—online-only—at 30% off list price. Help! is a nontechnical how-to manual that even veteran teachers can benefit from, with plentiful ideas, examples, and tips starting with first-day icebreakers through managing the classroom and working with in-school teams and parents. The ideal gift for student teachers, too. To order, visit http://www.nsta.org/onlinespecial (to browse a chapter, click on the book).

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