Iowa Next Generation Science Standards Task Force Votes to Approve


A popular attraction for kids when visiting the Science Center of Iowa, and pictures perfectly my frustration with the NGSS process – a silent scream!

I left the Next Generation Science Standards task force meeting at the Science Center of Iowa in Des Moines early.  I didn’t think there was going to be a vote taken today.  I was wrong.

A friend called me and this is how the vote broke down:

  • 11 members voted to approve without reservations.
  • 7 members voted to approve with reservations.
  • 1 member voted no.
  • 1 member abstained.

There were some members missing so apparently Iowa Department of Education officials will be contacting them to receive their vote.  Members who have reservations can submit a one page report to submit to the board explaining why they have reservations.  Apparently there will be a follow-up meeting to discuss that in November.

Some brief thoughts (a guest post by mom and former teacher who was present will be forthcoming):  The meetings were a farce.  The Department handpicked people to speak who lead people down the process to approve the Next Generation Science Standards.  Members did not hear from anyone who was opposed (at the meetings, not necessarily in between).

I did hear asinine statements from Iowa Department of Education officials like:

  • “Governors wrote the Common Core” – really?  That’s news to me.  I’m sure David Coleman would be surprised to hear that.
  • Spending $22.50 (minimum for Smarter Balanced) is ok to spend per student per assessment since other states are already spending more.  Wow, that’s a winning argument.

We can also look forward to assessments to go along with the science standards – yay, more money, more testing.

Anyway, totally not surprised by this.  This just further reinforces my belief that elected legislators should decide standards after getting an inside peek into this process.

Update: I learned that six members were not present and that State Senator Amy Sinclair was one of them.  Hopefully that will mean two no votes (not that it matters much).

About Shane Vander Hart

Shane Vander Hart founded Iowans for Local Control in 2012 which later merged with Iowa RestorEd. Shane also is the founder and editor-in-chief of Caffeinated Thoughts and the founder and president of 4:15 Communications, LLC, a social media & communications consulting/management firm.  You can connect with Shane on Facebook or follow him on Twitter and Google +.


  1. This nation is going down the tubes. This is what we deserve.

  2. Hi Shane,

    I thought I’d add a point of clarification for other readers who might also like to know more information related to the comment you heard about the authors of the common core.

    You’re correct, governors did not write the common core state standards (which are different from the NGSS). As you are likely aware, the common core state standards (primarily math & literacy) were initiated by the National Governors Association and Council of Chief State School Officers (Source: The actual names of the authors are likely available online as well. I believe Achieve was involved, too. (Source:

    My understanding is that the NGSS movement was initiated by a different group: National Research Council, the National Science Teachers Association, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and Achieve (Source: NGSS authors are listed on their website


  3. Mike Wedge says:

    As a member of the NGSS taskforce, I can assure you that….
    1. We read all of the 2,000+ comments from Iowans about the NGSS. I was bemused that a certain percentage of the comments (I want to say 20%) said they never read the NGSS, but felt “confident” that they knew enough to oppose them. Other negative comments (which there really weren’t that many) ranged from “Hitler would love the NGSS” to “it’s Obamacare for Science.” I believe 80%+ were in favor of adoption of NGSS, including the vast majority of science teachers—the ones who would be actually tasked with implementation.

    2. We compared NGSS to other curricula (obviously, mostly Iowa Core). We found Iowa core severely lacking and the consensus was that NGSS was far superior, specifically regarding cross-counting concepts and learning progressions. Obviously, there were concerns, but more about “which grade would do this?” or “how would we assess this particular topic?”. The framework of NGSS was something most of us thought was far superior to Iowa core.

    3. The meetings were all open, there were people watching…I went over and talked to audience guests/members (as did others)….we listened to each other’s concerns and especially shared experiences (with science and the educational system).

    4. Concerns about ‘controversial’ topics were discussed (as they should be), but it was quickly made apparent to the non-classroom teachers that climate change and evolution are already in Iowa core and are (or should be) taught. Discussions about side issues i.e. teaching intelligent design or creationism, etc. were quickly (and correctly) tabled because these ARE NOT TOPICS RELATED TO SCIENCE and are 100% inappropriate for a public school science curricula. If anyone insists on arguing this point, then they do NOT have a basic understanding of how science works or what science is.

    To be perfectly honest, I thought the NGSS taskforce meetings were professionally ran and engaging. I thoroughly enjoyed listening to everyone’s concerns and viewpoints. I wasn’t 100% sold on NGSS when I agreed to serve, but after listening and learning, it really was a no brainer.

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