After years of controversy, Wyoming Governor Matt Mead has signed into law a new set of K-12 science standards. In 2014, state legislators passed a bill blocking adoption of the Next Generation Science Standards because they acknowledged man-made climate change as fact.
State Superintendent Jillian Balow says, since then, her staff has reviewed a dozen other standards, and taken public input on what Wyoming standards should say.
“Climate change, evolution, some of those issues are going to continue to be controversial and exist inside or outside of the standards conversation,” said Balow. “So one of my goals was to make sure we had great science standards that encourage students to use the scientific process to determine or deduce factual science.”
Compared to the Next Generation standards, Wyoming’s are less explicit about the connection between human activity and climate change, but they do still require students to evaluate human impacts on the environment.
Balow worked with a review board made up of scientists, educators and parents to develop the standards, which also emphasize Wyoming resources, like the state's geology, agriculture and wildlife.
“Whenever there is a science standard that touches on Wyoming science, it’s denoted with a bucking horse symbol, which is a clue to educators that that’s a great time to bring in Wyoming resources,” she said.
School districts have until 2020 to adopt the new standards, but that many have already incorporated them.