- Associated Press - Friday, March 11, 2016

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) - The second attempt to replaced Wyoming’s outdated K-12 science standards has resulted in proposed standards that are more robust overall and more balanced in addressing human-caused global warming, state officials said Friday.

The proposed standards released Friday by the state Department of Education were the work of a committee of about 40 people, including teachers, administrators, parents, business and community members from across the state. The committee has working on the new standards since last May.

“These standards certainly represent updated information with a heavy emphasis on inquiry, on STEM and crosscutting the scientific topics so that students have a more robust and round view of science,” state Superintendent of Public Instruction Jillian Balow said. STEM refers to science, technology, engineering and math education.

This the second attempt at reviewing the state’s current science standards. The first attempt was halted mostly over opposition to the use of the Next Generation Science Standards, which were developed by organizations outside the state.

Some people in Wyoming didn’t like how the Next Generation standards addressed human-caused global warming. The extraction of fossil fuels is the main industry in the state’s economy.

The committee that drafted the proposed standards took pieces from the Next Generation and other standards and added elements specific to Wyoming.

The committee adopted standards that make no determination whether humans are the main cause of global warming, said Laurie Hernandez, standards supervisor with the state Education Department.

Rather, “students should be investigating and looking at the change whether it is positive or negative or an increase or decrease and making informed decisions based on their investigation and research,” Hernandez said.

There also were complaints that the first set of proposed standards didn’t get adequate public review.

Pete Gosar, chairman of the State Board of Education, said the board recognized the need for the public to be involved in coming up with the new standards. “We think that public input is essential to establishing education policies that work for Wyoming, and we’re happy to report that we used that process in the science standards review,” Gosar said.

The State Board of Education will review the proposed standards and take public comment over the coming months. The first presentation of the draft standards to the board will come during its meeting March 17-18 in Hulett.

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