Influencing Next Generation Science Standards

by Dr. Elizabeth Mitchell on May 19, 2012

Next Generation Science Standards: “Review the Draft StandardsYou are invited to influence the Next Generation Science Standards.

Next Generation Science Standards is a project commissioned by 26 states to develop K-12 science education standards for the next generation. With a goal of improving the quality of science education in the United States, the proposed standards are modeled on the National Research Council’s Framework for K-12 Science Education.1 Until June 1, the developers of the standards are inviting public input.2 Many states are likely to adopt the new standards. This is your chance to let your voice be heard, perhaps influencing the face of science education in the United States for years to come.

The proposed standards suggest teaching each discipline in greater depth while showing how scientific principles apply across all disciplines. As such, they should increase both the knowledge base and critical thinking skills.

The new standards stress “understanding the Nature of Science.”3 By this they mean using evidence to build scientific explanations of the natural world. However, the standards do not distinguish between observational and historical science or explain the role of observer bias in scientific interpretation.

No one can perform repeatable scientific tests to elucidate the origins of life, the earth, or the universe.

Several examples of observational science are provided to illustrate the way scientific models are developed, but the document fails to mention that scientific explanations offered in the area of historical (or origins) science are inevitably dependent on worldview-biased assumptions. No one can perform repeatable scientific tests to elucidate the origins of life, the earth, or the universe. Those events already occurred in the past and cannot be reproduced in the present. Thus any conclusions about the origins of life, the earth and the universe depend upon the starting assumptions of the investigator, including his acceptance or rejection of God’s eyewitness account in the Bible.

As to specific teaching standards regarding origins, molecules-to-man evolution is presented as fact alongside observable principles of natural selection and speciation, without distinction. Just before a high school standard concerning natural selection, the draft states:

Genetic information, like the fossil record, also provides evidence of evolution. DNA sequences vary among species, but there are many overlaps; in fact, the ongoing branching that produces multiple lines of descent can be inferred by comparing the DNA sequences of different organisms. Such information is also derivable from the similarities and differences in amino acid sequences and from anatomical and embryological evidence.4

Natural selection and speciation are observable in the world today. But unverifiable “common ancestry” based on the fossil record, genetic information, and embryonic development is presented as if equally observable. In reality, for example, “embryological evidence” cannot offer support for evolution of new kinds of creatures but only for the development of young creatures. Any other evolutionary interpretation is imaginatively imposed on the evidence.

The middle school section states evolutionary history can be documented and its specifics inferred from anatomical homologies and the fossil record. The draft states:

Anatomical similarities and differences between various organisms living today, and between them and organisms in the fossil record, enable the reconstruction of evolutionary history and the inference of the lines of evolutionary descent.5

Neither the fossil record nor homologies demonstrate the transitional forms necessary to support evolutionary claims of one kind of creature changing into a different kind.

Neither the fossil record nor homologies demonstrate the transitional forms necessary to support evolutionary claims of one kind of creature changing into a different kind (e.g., a reptile into a bird or mammal or an ape into a human). Furthermore, evolutionary dogma cannot account for the origin of new genetic information required for upward evolution.

Additionally, the draft unequivocally states the earth and the solar system were formed 4.6 billion years ago6 and has experienced multiple ice ages.7 It explains the solar system’s origin by the nebular hypothesis8 and says, “The universe began with a period of extreme and rapid expansion known as the Big Bang.”9 These ideas, though commonly held among evolutionary scientists, again rest on unverifiable assumptions about the past. Furthermore, the fact that commonly accepted explanations for the formation of the solar system and the universe are at variance with some laws of physics is ignored.

While these proposed standards are no great surprise, they will become standard in states that ultimately adopt them. If they are adopted in their present form, a mandate to teach molecules-to-man evolution and evolutionary cosmology could potentially de-rail the recent gains in some states now allowing open discussion of the scientific problems with evolutionary thinking. Many aspects of these standards should promote critical thinking skills, but the failure to distinguish between observational/experimental science and historical/origins science and the difference between observations, assumptions, and interpretations will have the opposite effect.

We have never advocated the required teaching of creation science in public schools. However, teaching conventional evolutionary origins science without the opportunity to critically analyze assumptions on which it is based restricts academic freedom and robs children of the opportunity to develop critical thinking skills and to really see the “nature of science.”

Until June 1, the public has an opportunity to offer input. Here is a chance to make a difference by letting your voice be heard. You can go to www.nextgenscience.org  read the draft and submit your comments.


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Footnotes

  1. Available as a PDF at http://www.nap.edu/catalog.php?record_id=13165.
  2. http://www.nextgenscience.org/next-generation-science-standards
  3. http://www.nextgenscience.org/sites/ngss/files/Nature%20of%20Science%20for%20Public%20Release%20FINAL%20PUBLIC%20May%20Draft_0.pdf
  4. http://nextgenscience.org/hsls-nse-natural-selection-and-evolution
  5. http://www.nextgenscience.org/msls-nsa-natural-selection-and-adaptations
  6. http://www.nextgenscience.org/msess-he-history-earth
  7. http://www.nextgenscience.org/hsess-cc-climate-change
  8. http://www.nextgenscience.org/msess-ssd-space-systems
  9. http://www.nextgenscience.org/msess-ss-space-systems

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Answers in Genesis is an apologetics ministry, dedicated to helping Christians defend their faith and proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ effectively. We focus on providing answers to questions about the Bible—particularly the book of Genesis—regarding key issues such as creation, evolution, science, and the age of the earth.