New Science Curriculum coming to Seattle Public Schools

Some good news for those of us in science education in the PNW!

Seattle Public Schools (SPS) has committed to updating all of their science curriculum over the next few years. They are beginning with K-8, and will tackle high school next. This is a big step and commitment by the district because SPS serves over 54,000 children. There are many reasons why this is happening, but the 2013 Washington mandate to adopt the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) is the primary reason. The current K-5 curriculum is from 1996 -it's so old that it includes VHS tapes. Yikes! 

Reasons behind this shift include:

  1. 2013 WA mandate to adopt NGSS (Now called the Washington State Science & Learning Standards)
  2. Need to address equity/access problems across the District. Currently, science curriculum is inconsistent between schools. New curriculum will ensure consistency of learning across district.
  3. Update/modernize content. A lot has changed in over 20 years!
  4. Adopt a 'phenomenon based' teaching approach. All content is linked to a science phenomenon or 'hook' to better engage students. This will be a big shift for the teachers!
  5. Abide by new, mandatory state testing requirements.
  6. Address the gap between available STEM jobs/careers vs high school/college readiness
These new standards will help educators cultivate students’ natural curiosity, push their creative boundaries and get kids excited about science and technology. This is a tremendous step forward for Washington’s students.
— Governor Inslee
  Practices:  Describe how scientists build theories and models about the way our world, and systems within it, works.   Crosscutting concepts:  Concepts that apply to all four science domains.   Disciplinary core ideas:  the foundational ideas needed for every student to be able to begin his or her own inquiries and practices.

Practices: Describe how scientists build theories and models about the way our world, and systems within it, works.

Crosscutting concepts: Concepts that apply to all four science domains.

Disciplinary core ideas: the foundational ideas needed for every student to be able to begin his or her own inquiries and practices.

The new curriculum adoption committee has been selected, and they have already met twice to come up with the assessment rubric used to rate the various curriculum packages. This assessment rubric will be finalized in the fall. It includes 5 major components:

  1. Standards Alignment
  2. Assessments
  3. Accessibility for Diverse Learners
  4. Evaluation of Bias Content
  5. Instructional Planning and Support

SoundBio's Dir. of Outreach, Holly Sawyer, is one of the members on this adoption committee and promises to keep us in the loop as this ongoing process unfolds. Stay tuned for more information in the fall of 2018!