The goals of the Science Department at Dawson are to provide specific training in K-12 curriculum and instruction: to provide training in alternative assessment methods and to address the individual needs of member school districts.The State Benchmark Exams are given in grades 5 and 7. Biology has an End of Course Exam also. The Science Specialists are working to assist the teachers prepare their students to succeed on these exams.
In order to insure that each district’s needs are addressed, the Dawson Co-op science department has requested a facilitator be named for each school building. These facilitators receive special leadership training in instruction, curriculum and assessment. Each district’s facilitator is responsible for bringing the information back to share with the teachers in their individual districts. As a State Science Specialist , Sherry Smith receives training at regular meetings with the State Science Specialists. These meetings allow collaboration with the other State Science Specialists in developing professional development for science teachers.
Arkansas is one of the lead states in writing the NGSS (Next Generation Science Standards). If the state adopts these standards in the summer of 2013, they will set a time for them to be implemented in the schools. We are still by law required to teach the present frameworks until that time. The 5thand 7th grade students will continue to be tested in science with the benchmark test. The biology students will continue to be tested with an End of Course Biology test. These will continue until the new standards are implemented and we know exactly how they will be tested in Arkansas.
There are some writing and reading strategies in the Common Core that science teachers need to be aware of and are implementing in their classes. Close reading and Argumentative Writing are two of the main strategies that need to be used in science classes. Professional development opportunities for these strategies will be available at the coop during the summer.