State Superintendent of Public Instruction: Rudy Crew
Primary Point of Contact: Cheryl Kleckner— State Science Supervisor
Organizations: STEM Advisory Council; Center for Science Education at Portland State University; Oregon University System; Oregon STEM Education Initiative; Oregon Science Teachers Association; Oregon Coast Aquarium; Oregon Museum of Science and Industry; Oregon Forestry Resources Institute.
Background: In order to graduate from an Oregon public high school a student must complete three credits in science, two of which must provide laboratory experiences. Oregon’s 2009 Science Content Standards require science classes to be “inquiry-based”, which emphasizes that students’ conclusions and explanations be supported through scientific reasoning and critical thinking found through personal investigations. Oregon standards are organized by four core standards per grade level: 1) Structure and Function; 2) Interaction and Change; 3) Scientific Inquiry; and 4) Engineering Design. The first two standards describe the big ideas of the three science disciplines (physical, life, and Earth and space) whereas standards three and four focus on the process skills and the nature and practice of science and engineering design which are intertwined within the three discipline areas. Students are assessed in science through the Oregon Assessment of Knowledge and Skills (OAKS) in grades 5, 8, and 11. The current Oregon Science Content Standards were most recently revised in 2009 and are being fully assessed in the 2011-12 school year. The current standards are tied closely with the NRC’s Framework for K–12 Science Education, and therefore are well positioned to transfer to the NGSS.
Commitment: Oregon has shown a strong commitment to standards based learning through its adoption of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) and its position as a governing state of SMARTER Balanced. Oregon’s current standards are based off the research that helped to develop the NRC framework, and therefore it is familiar with and committed to the content of the NGSS. Since the framework is similar to the Oregon standards, Oregon believes its participation in the development of the NGSS will help to bring interest to Oregon’s vision for science education, and provide national support for moving this vision forward.
STEM Involvement: Oregon has a STEM Advisory Council that helped draft the state’s STEM Education Initiative and is supporting the development of regional STEM Education Centers in order to promote STEM education statewide. These programs will help to provide support to schoolsin developing and improving STEM education. These Centers will also play a part in the NGSS development work and will be essential in promoting and providing support for NGSS implementation.
Alliances and Infrastructure: Oregon has many organizations that work with the state to advance and promote science education. In addition to the STEM resources mentioned above, Oregon has a science content and assessment panel that developed the 2009 science standards and created state science assessments. Oregon additionally has networks within districts which focus on professional development in science education, which will serve useful for NGSS implementation. The Oregon Department of Education (ODE) is actively involved with its post-secondary institutions and business and industry professionals which help to advance science education, jobs, and STEM initiatives. The ODE also works closely with the Center for Science Education at Portland State University, members of which have helped to create the 2009 standards and one of which is currently serving on the NGSS Writing Team. This integral relationship will help the state with implementation efforts, and STEM education support statewide. As the NGSS work continues the Oregon Department of Education and its networks will continue to play an integral part in promoting and supporting science education statewide.
Check back soon for more information on Oregon's state team and implementation plans