- Associated Press - Tuesday, August 9, 2016

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) - Louisiana’s top school board is launching a wide-ranging review of the state’s science standards for public schools, choosing the people Tuesday who will help shape the teaching benchmarks for classrooms.

The Board of Elementary and Secondary Education agreed to a list of 85 people who will serve on the review committee and its workgroups, made up largely of educators from local school systems around Louisiana.

Superintendent of Education John White described the list as “highly balanced.”

The committee will do its work at meetings planned across the state, with the first one scheduled next week in Baton Rouge.

The classroom standards set guideposts for what students from kindergarten through 12th grade should know in basic science, physical science, physics, biology, chemistry, earth science and other scientific fields by the end of each grade.

BESE President Jim Garvey said in a statement that the review process is aimed at “ensuring that Louisiana science standards reflect the knowledge and skills our students need to succeed, as well as prepare them for a variety of college and career opportunities.”

The review approach follows a similar recent rewrite of math and English standards, with periods of public comment and a final package of standards to be recommended for the education board’s consideration in March 2017.

It’s the first review of Louisiana’s public school science standards in more than a decade.

The 2005 standards currently in place are based off benchmarks written in 1997. The education department says only two states, New Mexico and Wisconsin, use older science standards and the review will focus on preparing students for jobs in STEM fields - science, technology, engineering and math.

Louisiana ranks poorly in national comparisons of science testing results.

Reviews of science standards have provoked controversy in other states, particularly in discussions of how to teach evolution.

The people selected to work on Louisiana’s rewrite include 58 educators from local school systems, nine educators from charter schools, six people from state universities, along with a handful of others from outside organizations and backgrounds.

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Follow Melinda Deslatte on Twitter at https://twitter.com/melindadeslatte

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