Key scientist digs new standards
The scientist who gave Florida's science standards a big, fat F two years ago says the proposed new standards are "very much better." Said biologist Paul Gross: "Clearly, the writing committee, whoever they are, have taken to heart all the arguments that have been made about lousy standards."
Gross (left) isn't just any biologist. He's a former MIT professor; a former provost at the University of Virginia; and a former director of the Marine Biological Laboratory at Woods Hole, Mass. Two years ago, he was the chief author of a scathing Fordham Institute report that found Florida's standards were "thin," "naïve" and "disappointing" (see St. Petersburg Times story here.) At the request of The Gradebook, Gross reviewed the proposed new standards – which were released in draft form last month - but on condition that it be made clear that he was doing so as an individual and not as a Fordham representative.
Gross wouldn't go so far as to give the proposed new standards a grade, but he left no doubt he liked what he saw. "The organization of the plan is entirely respectable and it pays attention to all the national models," he said. "There's not a lot of fluff in it."
In particular, he called the standards' treatment of evolution "entirely reasonable." (The current standards never mention the word "evolution.") "I wish it were spread out so that there was more of it mentioned in the primary grades, but that's a quibble compared to what we saw last time," Gross said. "This is an excellent change."
- Ron Matus, state education reporter