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Why Did Illinois Adopt New Math and Science Standards?

Panel to address controversial new national guidelines during two public forums

EVANSTON, Ill. --- Illinois recently adopted new national standards for science and mathematics, a move that has sparked opposition, confusion and debate. What are the new standards and why were they needed? How will they affect students, educators and communities?

Brian Reiser, a learning sciences professor at Northwestern's School of Education and Social Policy and a contributing author of the framework the new standards are based on, is one of several experts who will tackle questions about the standards and present the facts during two upcoming public Chicago-area programs on Nov. 12 and Nov. 20.  

Sponsored by the Chicago Council on Science and Technology, the public forums are designed to clear up some of the misinformation surrounding the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) and the Common Core standards for mathematics.

The two public panel discussions will be held at:

In addition to Reiser, panelists also include Lynn Narasimhan, a mathematics professor and the director of the STEM Center at DePaul University; Kurt Poppenhouse, a former Chicago Public Schools math teacher who is developing a digital math curriculum; and Mary Rockrohr, the instructional supervisor for science at Glenbrook North High School.

Reiser was a member of the National Research Council (NRC) committee that developed research-based recommendations for improving elementary and middle school science education, called Framework for K-12 Science Education. These proposals shaped the design of the Next Generation Science Standards, which were then released in 2013.

The standards, developed to reflect major advances in science and the understanding of how students learn, are the first new ones since 1996. They are considered the science equivalent for the Common Core, which established standards for mathematics and English language arts/literacy (ELA).

A leading learning sciences researcher, Reiser explores new ways to make scientific practices meaningful and effective for teachers and students.  The new framework is designed to help students develop critical thinking skills and to make more connections across content areas.

“The focus on depth over breadth, coherence across years and the key role of scientific practices are all promising steps forward in the new standards,” said Reiser, who is developing an online library of videos and other resources to help teachers incorporate the new standards into their classrooms.

Question-and-answer sessions will follow each panel presentation. Pre-registration is required for the event at the Skokie Library. For the Chicago panel, discounted parking is available to the first 50 attendees at the 222 East Huron garage with a discounted ticket purchased at the registration table.

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