Common Core Science At Utah's Door
(updated 18 May 2015)

Common Core is Missing Parts. That is, Common Core is lacking the Science and Social Studies components. It is not that there was any intent for creators of national standards such as Acheive to skip such components, it is that these components have come later in their effort. The National Science component is and has been finished for some time now, and there has been powerful efforts to get it adopted in Utah.

The National Common Core component for Science is called "The Next Generation Science Standards" or NGSS. The Utah State Office of Education has been in the process of advancing these standards for adoption for some time now, beginning with grades 6th, 7th, and 8th. The plan seems to have been to fly it in under the radar. When NGSS was sent to the legislative required "Standards Review Committee" the document was titled "Utah Science and Engineering Education Standards" or "UT SEEd Standards." At the time these documents reached the review committee, it appears that even the Board of Education members in general, had no idea that these standards were really the NGSS national standards in disguise.

The legislative intent for the "Standards Review Committee" was to get input from the community on proposed State School Standards, particularly from Parents, hopefully to avoid some of the backlash that has arisen from situations like the adoption of national Common Core standards.

Here is one report on the working of this committee:
Are you ready to have national science standards in UT?

Though there has be minor verbiage added to the NGSS in the effort to move their adoption in Utah, let me assure you that the proposed science standards are the Next Generation Science Standards and are marketed as the compliment to Common Core. The proposed standards match the NGSS in the following:

Only the Performance Standards were released for public comment, the rest of the NGSS material for these grades was not disclosed, even though it was admitted at various USOE meetings during the public review, that the teachers would be getting essentially the full packet of materials.

Reading from the NGSS website Frequently Asked Questions, formulators of these standards pose the question:

Will the new standards be the Common Core State Standards for Science?
They then answer the question by indicating that a fundamental effort of creating these standards was to meet that objective. Drectly after that admission they state:
To reap the benefits of the science standards, states should adopt them in whole without alteration. States can use the NGSS, as they are using the CCSS [Common Core State Standards] in English language arts and mathematics, to align curriculum, instruction, assessment, and professional preparation and development.

This has apparently been done as there is no substantial deviation in Utah's SEEd standards draft from the NGSS. To further clarify this issue we can read from the NGSS Trademark and Copyright Guidelines as they stood:

States ... that have adopted or are in the process of adopting the NGSS in whole shall be exempt from this Attribution and Copyright Notice provision of this License.(accessed 14 April 2013 - 14 March 2015 )

Those who have reviewed the standards when they were first proposed to the State Board of Education have noted that there is no attribution to the NGSS in spite of the essentially word-for-word duplication. So, either there is a legal infringement of copyright, or there is a tacit admission of an effort by individuals in the state office for wholesale adoption of the standards. The effort for wholesale adoption of the standards was denied, or in the least not confessed, even when Sarah Young (the previous state science specialist) and Ricky Scott (the current science specialist and one of the contributors to Utah's adoption process), were questioned about the source of the standards in the standards subcommittee meeting held in the evening of the 5th of February, 2015. Sydnee Dickson, the Deputy State Superintendent, who was also present, did finally admit at one point that the proposed standards did borrow heavily from the NGSS.

The subcommittee did vote down the advancement of the standards that night (5th Feb 2015). However on the 10th of April the standards were released by Utah's State Board of Education to the general public for the required 90 day review period, however in doing so they only released the Preformance Expectations, nearly all of the rest of the material was held back. When questioned the if the teachers would receive more than just the performance standards, the State Office representitive admited on several occasions that indeed other material would accompiany the Performace Expectations. Though the Performance Expectation are challenged even standing by them selves, and should be rejected, I beleive the additional undisclosed material which some like myself have seen give reise to even more concern.

Vincent Newmeyer

(Watch) Utah's Deceptive Science Standards Adoption

See Other Articles About the Science Standards