Second Draft Made Public: Science Standards in Texas

A new proposal drafted November 12, 2008 was finally made public just recently. Texas has been the center of attention for many special interests when it comes to revising their school standards in science. There is quite a lot of information to sort through and most likely I will not get to it all in this post.

I agree to a certain degree with David M. Hills, Professor of the University of Texas. Some of the draft standards are confusing to the concepts of scientific theories and scientific hypotheses. But there is confusion about scientific law too…

Here are the big three in science studies…

1) Hypothesis

2) Scientific Theory

3) Scientific Law

These three items even confuse future teachers of science who have embraced evolution. In a post I presented awhile back called; Educator Alarmed Over Trainees Understanding of Science. It revealed some interesting facts about what future science teachers knew about the “big 3.”

Of course David M. Hillis who is on the expert panel as he contributes to the new proposal. His interest of course is more in trying to strengthen the belief in evolution to even a more dogmatic standard…He states…

“YYThe standards for the grade 9-12 Physics course —112.47 (a) (2) — get it right: “A hypothesis is a tentative and testable statement that is based on observation. Students should know that scientific theories, unlike hypotheses, are well established and highly reliable, but they will still be subject to changes as new areas of science and new technologies are developed.”LL

This is good, but additional explanation may be needed here, given the common misunderstanding of the meaning of scientific theory. Students should know that scientific theories are based on a huge body of scientific investigations, and that scientific theories represent scientific consensus based on an evaluation of the sum of scientific evidence (typically from hundreds of thousands of scientific investigations across many decades or even centuries)…”

The concept of theories being considered factual for a period of time, then some changed due to obvious new evidence which doesn’t fit the theory, has been around a long time. Some claim that only means the theory pertaining to naturalism is incomplete.

More about the science standards in Texas…

“Scientific explanations must be based on naturally occurring phenomena, and must be cable of testing by multiple independent researchers. If scientific explanations are based on purported forces that are outside of nature, scientist have no way of testing those explanations. Unless a proposed scientific explanation is framed in a way that some observational evidence could potentially refute it, that explanation cannot be subject to scientific testing.”

The word used “purported forces” sounds pagan. God is not a “force” to Christians. The term does suggest indirectly that science has disproved the supernatural. Purported means; reputed or claimed; alleged: We saw no evidence of his purported wealth. This term should not be used in the science standards.

Anyway, Stephen Meyers who is another expert on the panel in Texas, points out, scientists often provide evidence which gives a preference to a theory over another without totally falsifying the less favored theory. Having a scientific theory based on falsifiability and reputability as a requirement for scientific status would remove other theories from their scientific status, Meyers argues.

Clearly there is bad things contained in the current status of the proposal. Each side is not quite happy with all of it’s form. There is however some good teaching methods for science in the proposal which I might go through in future posts.

As for right now, I suggest people display their viewpoints by emailing:

You must specify…

• the course or grade level
• specific numbered Knowledge and Skill (KS) statement
• specific lettered Student Expectation (SE).

Christians are especially encouraged to give their viewpoints about the science standards in Texas. So go ahead, write what you think, make your voices known!


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