Academic journal article Phi Delta Kappan

Can We Talk?

Academic journal article Phi Delta Kappan

Can We Talk?

Article excerpt

IT'S NOVEMBER as I'm writing this, and if you have any interest in science education, in education in general, or in the future of the nation, you'll need to be ready to take to heart the message of Mark Windschitl's lead article in this issue. I say this because I've just read through the draft of the Science Framework for the 2009 National Assessment of Educational Progress. Though a daunting task (more than 100 pages of 12-point type in a Microsoft Word file), it's not a bad document to read.

I was moved to examine the Framework by reading Less Than Proficient, a review of the NAEP document produced by a panel headed by Paul Gross of the University of Virginia, formerly of Woods Hole, the University of Rochester, and M.I.T. This report was funded by the Thomas B. Fordham Foundation, and readers of this page will know that, while the Kappan frequently publishes work by scholars and writers associated with the Fordham Foundation, I don't often find myself in full agreement with them. And this time is no exception.

If we were choosing up sides in the endless debates over science education that Windschitl describes, I'd say that I'm more at home on the "reform talk" team than on the "traditional talk" team. And the members of the Fordham review panel, I'd judge, would be more comfortable carrying the ball for "traditional talk."

That said, I'm here to hand out a measure of praise to the panel. They've done a solid job of analyzing the Framework, and, while I don't fully agree with all of their recommendations, their points are certainly worth considering with an open mind. I hope those at WestEd and the Council of Chief State School Officers, who produced the Framework for the National Assessment Governing Board, will give them a fair hearing.

But over and above the substance of their analysis, credit is due to the members of the panel for their attitude. …

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