Bureau Researcher Sue Hovorka Serves on Earth Science Task Force
UT Austin Bureau researcher Sue Hovorka recently served on the Texas State Board of Education's (SBOE) Earth Science Task Force, a select group of Texas earth science professionals charged with studying the earth science curriculum and graduation requirements for science in Texas secondary schools. Dr. Sharon Mosher of the UT Department of Geological Sciences also served on the committee, which presented its recommendations to the SBOE in June 2003. The Task Force began its' work in July 2002, which included conducting open forum meetings in different geographic areas of the state.
The formation of the task force was spurred by current rules, which include the directive that all earth-science-based classes are "elective" classes only; this prevents students from enrolling in any earth-science based class to meet the graduation requirements in science. Earth science based classes include astronomy, geology, meteorology and oceanography (GMO), marine/aquatic science, and environmental science classes.
The Task Force recommended changes that will strengthen earth science in the curriculum of the state's secondary schools and increase the science literacy of all students. Task Force members also include representatives from Trinity University, Pflugerville ISD, Aldine ISD, Texas Education Agency, University of Texas at Dallas, LGB-Guyton and Associates, Fort Worth ISD, Ellison Miles Geotechnology Institute, and the Science Teachers Association of Texas.
The Task Force report will be on the agenda at the Texas State Board of Education meeting of the Committee on Instruction on Thursday afternoon, September 11, at the Texas Education Agency, 1701 North Congress Ave. Interested persons are welcome to attend this public meeting. Task Force members are glad to receive and respond to comments and questions; please E-mail Sue Hovorka. A summary statement of the Task Force is presented below.
Summary Statement of the Earth Science Task Force Report
The report of the Earth Science Task Force has been submitted to the Texas State Board of Education (SBOE). The Committee on Instruction of the SBOE will discuss the report on Thursday, September 11, in the William B. Travis Building in Austin, Texas. The Task Force strongly believes that the implementation of the recommendations contained in the report will improve the earth science education and the science literacy of the children of Texas.
The primary recommendation is to have earth science restored to the high school curriculum as a course that counts as science credit for graduation. Two courses are recommended by the Task Force to meet the science credit requirement: Geology, Meteorology, and Oceanography (GMO) and AP Environmental Science. The Task Force also recommends that GMO be redesigned and augmented to incorporate core concepts of the present GMO with other important aspects of earth science. In addition, it is recommended that Earth and Space Science concepts and objectives be tested on the high school exit level assessment (TAKS).
Earth science is currently a part of the science curriculum for middle school. The Task Force recommends that when the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS) for science are revised, that the middle school TEKS for Earth and Space Science be revised so that they will be better aligned with the National Science Education Standards. A new science assessment that includes an earth science objective testing Earth and Space concepts should be implemented at the eighth grade level.
The members of the Task Force are recommending that four years of science be required for the Distinguished Achievement Graduation Plan as soon as possible; and, that eventually, four years of science be required for the Recommended Graduation Plan. Earth Science should be a required course in the four-year plan.
The Task Force studied the issue of teacher preparation and certification in earth science. It recommends that steps be taken to increase the number of qualified earth science teachers.
The recommendations of the Earth Sciences Task Force need the strong support of the Texas and national geosciences communities. The implementation of the recommendations will help to develop a citizenry knowledgeable about the Earth, its processes, and its resources. To obtain a copy of the Executive Summary or the full report, you should contact Ed Roy at www.eroy@trinity.edu.