End to the impasse in sight?

A panel approved a proposed revision to the section on evolution in South Carolina's new state science standards, according to The State (July 29, 2014). If the revision is approved by the state board of education and the Education Oversight Committee, it will end the impasse over South Carolina's state science standards that began with the EOC's refusal in December 2013 to accept a standard covering evolution.

According (PDF) to the panel's agenda, the proposed revision adds a new standard and a related performance indicator as follows:

H.B.5D. Conceptual Understanding: Science is the systematic gathering of information through both direct and indirect observation, and the testing of this information by experimentation with the aim of developing concepts and formulation of laws and theories. Scientific conclusions are tested by experiment and observation, and evolution, as with any aspect of science, is continually open to and subject to experimental and observational testing. 

Performance Indicator: Student who demonstrate this understanding can: 
Explain how scientists develop theories and laws by using deductive and inductive reasoning in situations where direct observation and testing are possible and also by inference through experimental and observational testing of historical scientific claims. Students should understand assumptions scientists make in situations where direct evidence is limited and understand that all theories may change as new scientific information is obtained.

The language of the revision largely derives from the National Science Teachers Association's position statement on evolution.

Rob Dillon, president of South Carolinians for Science Education and a professor of biology at the College of Charleston, told The State that the language of the proposed revision is itself unobjectionable. But he expressed concern about the potential effect of singling out evolution for special treatment, saying, "I would hope that a science teacher at the high-school level would see that language and understand that it is general principles about the scientific method." 

The panel, with members from the state board of education and the EOC, was convened after the last clash between the two bodies. As NCSE previously reported, in June 2014, the board rejected the EOC's proposal — backed by the Discovery Institute — to revise the standards to require students to "[c]onstruct scientific arguments that seem to support and scientific arguments that seem to discredit Darwinian natural selection."


We can't afford to lose any time when it comes to the future of science education.

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