Massachusetts set a new standard for science education in public schools when the Board of Education in December passed a new set of classroom guides that mandate engineering education from elementary to high school grades.
The frameworks serve as a blueprint for instruction and determine content on the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System exam.
“This is historic. With the vote, the state will introduce engineering to K-12 learning,” said Tufts University School of Engineering Dean Ioannis Miaoulis, chairman of the technology/engineering advisory panel. “Massachusetts will be the first state in the country to do this. We will also be a world leader.”
Miaoulis and his colleagues have worked for more than a decade to get schools and policy-makers to embrace the notion that grade-appropriate engineering lessons can be taught to students.
In addition to the engineering piece, the new framework will offer school districts more flexibility in the science programs they offer to high schoolers.
Critics have slammed the 10th-grade science section of MCAS, saying not all schools teach science in a sequence that covers all topics by spring of sophomore year, when the MCAS is administered.
The new frameworks include options that will allow schools to test students once they’ve studied a particular subject, be it at the end of a one-year course or a two-year “integrated” science program.