The Case of the Vanishing Embryos

Wyoming state welcome sign, along Interstate 80, entering from Utah. Photograph by ErgoSum88 via Wikimedia Commons.Currently under public review in Wyoming is a new proposed draft of state science standards. Wyoming, of course, achieved a degree of ignominy with regard to state science standards in early 2014, when a footnote in the state’s budget for 2014–2016 precluded the use of state funds “for any review or adoption” of the Next Generation Science Standards. Why? The author of the footnote, Matt Teeters, complained that the NGSS “handle global warming as settled science,” adding, “There’s all kind of social implications involved in that that I don’t think would be good for Wyoming.” There was a swift outcry, with educators, scientists, clergy, and the general public all over the Equality State protesting the decision, and the legislature—sans Teeters—reversed its decision in early 2015. The Wyoming state board of education, however, decided not to adopt the NGSS outright, instead asking a committee of Wyoming science educators to devise a new set of science standards for the state.

Previously, the committee recommended the adoption of the NGSS, so it’s not particularly surprising to discover that the new draft of science standards bears a close resemblance to the NGSS. There is, however, a conspicuous omission. Where the NGSS (in MS-LS-4-3) expect students to:

Analyze displays of pictorial data to compare patterns of similarities in the embryological development across multiple species to identify relationships not evident in the fully formed anatomy. [Clarification Statement: Emphasis is on inferring general patterns of relatedness among embryos of different organisms by comparing the macroscopic appearance of diagrams or pictures.]

the Wyoming draft omits the standard altogether, offering by way of rationale the following four points:

Glenn Branch
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Glenn Branch is Deputy Director of NCSE.
We can't afford to lose any time when it comes to the future of science education.

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