Florida Adopts Compromise Science Standards
February 21, 2008 -- The Florida Board of Education voted 4-3 in favor of adopting new state science education standards for K-12 public schools. For the first time the new standards include the word evolution, calling it a foundation of modern biology and one of the "big ideas" that students need to understand for a well-grounded science education. It will take three to four years to implement the new standards.
Following lengthy debate, a compromise version of the proposed standards was unveiled that referred to evolution as a "scientific theory." This version was adopted by the board, along with the application of this qualifier to other fundamental scientific concepts, referring to the teaching of cell and atomic theories, for example.
The current standards, written in 1996, do not use the term evolution, and instead say students should learn about "biological changes over time." These standards have been widely criticized by scientists and others as vague and misleading in their coverage of important subjects such as evolution.
The National Academy of Sciences and the Institute of Medicine are strong supporters of the teaching of evolution and oppose the introduction of nonscientific “alternatives” into public school science curricula. In the recently released book Science, Evolution and Creationism, they provide the public with a comprehensive, up-to-date picture of the current scientific understanding of evolution and its important place in science classrooms. The book also shares examples of the science of evolution, for instance explaining how it is essential to the detective work involved in identifying and treating disease.
In 1996, the National Research Council published the National Science Education Standards. The standards outline what students need to know, understand, and be able to do to be scientifically literate at different grade levels. They were developed for local, state, and national use to encourage science standards for all students.
The Academies have also developed a Web site for easy access to resources on evolution.