Bill to unblock NGSS passes Wyoming legislature

The Wyoming House of Representatives and Senate have agreed on the wording of a bill that will allow the state board of education to adopt the Next Generation Science Standards, according to Wyoming Public Media (February 26, 2015). Now enrolled, House Bill 23 (PDF) proceeds to Wyoming's governor Matt Mead for his signature.

As originally passed by the House, HB 23 would have allowed the state to adopt the NGSS by repealing a footnote in the state budget for 2014-2016 that precluded the use of state funds for "any review or adoption of the NGSS." The footnote was prompted by the NGSS's treatment of climate change, as NCSE previously reported.

Before passing HB 23, however, the Senate amended it by adding, "The state board of education may consider, discuss or modify the next generation science standards, in addition to any other standards, content or benchmarks as it may determine necessary, to develop quality science standards that are unique to Wyoming."

It was feared that the uniqueness requirement in the Senate version might be interpreted as precluding the adoption of the NGSS after all. According to the Casper Star-Tribune (February 13, 2015), "Many around the Capitol on Thursday were confused as to what [the provision's author] intended with science standards that are 'unique to Wyoming.'" 

The uniqueness requirement, rejected by the House, was replaced by the conference committee with "The state board of education shall independently examine and scrutinize any science standards proposed or reviewed as a template in order to ensure that final standards adopted for Wyoming schools promote excellence."

The new version of HB 23, which was subsequently approved by both houses of the legislature, "would allow the state Board of Education to review the Next Generation Science Standards, an enhanced version of those standards or a different set of K-12 science standards," reported the Casper Star-Tribune (February 25, 2015).

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