Last week, federal legislation was introduced last week which would amend the No Child Left Behind Act (a/k/a "Elementary and Secondary Education Act") to include science as a measure of Adequate Yearly Progress, along with reading and math. Science testing at 3 grade levels was already required, however reporting the results was not. The amendment would require testing in science in grades 3 - 8 and at grade 10. These would be phased in by 2010.
When I think about what this will really mean, I don't know what kind of excitement to have: the kind like "Oh, boy! Finally science is getting attention!" or "Oh, crap! We're getting too much attention!" Love it or hate it, at least NCLB is going to make schools start paying attention to science. It won't be left behind (!) in favor of reading and math. I think that's a good thing. The idea that we're going to have to address equity issues in science is also good. (We have major issues with the achievement gap in science in my district.) The whole 2010 thing is a bit frightening. That's such a short time to be ready. My job has suddenly become a whole lot more important to the district.
Will "testing" mean another WASL for other grades...or some sort of classroom based assessment? What about the fact that our standards are not assigned to grades...but are in grade bands---how can we test each year? I'm sure the state must be peeing in its britches at the moment, considering the development and money involved.
Meanwhile, my k-5 science group meets again tomorrow to try to make some final recommendations about scope and sequence and kit selection. This new wrinkle will have to be taken into consideration...and we're going to have to sell it to the Boss Lady. She has alluded that we won't be allowed to purchase anything other than FOSS kits, but that curriculum doesn't work with our standards and is rather poor in comparison to other programs. I know that teachers may be uncomfortable making a bit of a change---but isn't our goal to help kids?