Commissioner of Education: Armando Vilaseca
Primary Points of Contact:
- Gail Hall — Middle/High School Science Assessment Coordinator
- Kathy Renfrew — Elementary Mathematics and Science Assessment Coordinator
Partner Organizations: Vermont Science Teachers’ Association; Vermont STEM Resource Group; Common Core Policy and Implementation Group; Science Network Leaders; Assessment Advisory Board in Science; Vermont Math Initiative
Background: Vermont requires that in order to graduate from high school all students must complete three credits of science. The Science Standards within Vermont’s Framework of Standards and Learning Opportunities are organized in grade clusters broken up K–4, 5–8, and 9–12. However, the Science Grade Expectations further outline the Vermont Standards and provide a pathway of learning over time. These Expectations are organized in two year clusters: PreK–K, 1–2, 3–4, 5–6, 7–8, and 9–10 which allow for greater flexibility in curriculum at the local level. Vermont is also a local control state where decisions regarding grade level content are locally established by school administrators and educators. However, due to recent legislation schools will be required to implement a common curriculum within their supervisory union beginning in 2013. Science is assessed in Vermont in grades 4, 8, and 11 through the New England Common Assessment Program (NECAP), an assessment consortium comprised of Vermont, Rhode Island, and New Hampshire. The current Vermont standards were adopted in 2000 with the Grade Expectations released shortly thereafter in 2004. Vermont understands the importance of science education and believes that this needs to be accurately reflected in the standards. Vermont has implementation timelines in place for the Common Core State Standards and believes that these tools will prove useful in implementing the NGSS.
Commitment: Vermont has shown a strong commitment to standards based learning in its adoption of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) and its position as a governing state in SMARTER Balanced. Vermont has a history of effective collaboration, as shown in its participation in the New England Common Assessment Program. Science has proven important to Vermont through the Vermont Professional Development Network, which over the past seven years has provided professional development and collaboration to address issues in science.
STEM Involvement: For the past four years the Vermont Department of Education Mathematics-Science Partnership has worked in collaboration with higher education professionals to offer STEM training to Career Technical Education (CTE) and high school students. Vermont also offers STEM academy programs, a STEM alternative to a core high school curriculum for high school students through numerous supervisory unions. Additionally, Vermont has organized a STEM resources electronic clearinghouse, established through a partnership of numerous science departments at local universities to provide STEM resource sharing. Looking forward, the Vermont Science Teachers’ Association has planned an April 2012 STEM conference focused on sharing STEM initiatives and improving statewide STEM collaboration.
Alliances and Infrastructure: Vermont has numerous associations and alliances with organizations throughout the state to assist the Department of Education with science education. The Common Core Policy and Implementation Group is a useful in collaborating resources and people power, specifically curriculum leaders and policy makers, throughout the state, and will be valuable in the implementation of the NGSS. Additionally, the Science Network Leaders are essential partners, for they are teachers who receive training and provide professional development regionally throughout the state. This method has been used so far in implementation of the CCSS, and will be used during implementation of NGSS as well. Other professional development groups, such as the elementary and high school Assessment Advisory Board in Science also collaborate to share effective professional development statewide. Vermont Department of Education has established Math and ELA Professional Development Groups in response to the CCSS, and therefore is in position to develop one for science following the adoption of the NGSS.
Check back soon for more information on Vermont's state team and implementation plans