A new report from NCSE and the Texas Freedom Network Education Foundation — “Making the Grade? How State Public School Standards Address Climate Change” — examines the treatment of climate change in state science standards across the country. There was good news and bad news.
A majority of states earned a B+ or better for how their standards address climate change overall. These include the twenty states that have adopted the Next Generation Science Standards as well as six states where the standards are even better.
But twenty states earned a C+ or worse; ten states received a D or worse, including some of the most populous states in the country; and six states — Alabama, Georgia, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Texas, and Virginia — received a failing grade.
The standards were assessed by three scientists with diverse specializations: Sarah Myhre, Steve Rissing, and Casey Williams. The reviewers considered how well the standards addressed four key points about climate change: it’s real; it’s us; it’s bad; there’s hope.
The report concluded, “Insofar as a set of state science standards fails to recognize that climate change is real, caused by human activity, serious, and soluble, it is not fit for [its] purpose. Students, and the rest of society, deserve better.”
The report was announced by NCSE’s executive director Ann Reid and TFNEF’s president Kathy Miller at a press conference held online on October 8, 2010. Video of the press conference is available at the Texas Freedom Network’s Facebook page.
Because Texas is currently in the process of revising some of its state science standards, the report immediately drew the attention of Texas newspapers, including the Dallas Morning News (October 8, 2010) and the Houston Chronicle (October 8, 2020).
Subsequently, the Waco Tribune-Herald (October 11, 2020) published a column by Miller and Reid that summarized the findings of the report and called on the Texas board of education to “ensure that Texas students learn what the evidence tells us about climate change.”