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A Comparison of the Science Standards United States National Standards, Texas Standards, and the Canadian Standards Terry Gallivan Liberty University EDUC 672 July 15, 2012

STANDARDS DOCUMENT A Comparison of the Science Standards United States National Standards, Texas Standards, and the Canadian Standards The Science content standards for 5th grade are similar to a puzzle. If just one piece is missing, there is a collapse in knowledge. It would seem the 5th grade students in the United States have some pieces missing from the puzzle by verification of International scores. In comparing the standards of Texas Essential Knowledge Skills (TEKS), the United States

National Standards and the Canadian Standards for fifth grade Science; some obvious differences are notable while similarities bind them together. All three standards have some correlation in content concentration but create a sense of confusion in what needs to be instructed. Texas and the National standards share life science, earth and space science, physical science, inquiry development, nature of science and human interaction or social science. While Canada focuses more narrowly on human organ systems, forces in the environment, change and matter, and conservation of energy and resources. The three standards explore some of the same content but differ in their execution and depth of the instruction. For example, physical science does not incorporate hurricanes in the same manner for the three standards possibly due to geographic location. If the question is how do hurricanes form? all three standards give partially the same information, yet vastly differ in depth. Texas standard (5.8) states: "The student knows that there are recognizable patterns in the natural world and among the Sun, Earth, and Moon system. The student is expected to: (B) explain how the Sun and the ocean interact in the water cycle" (TEA, 2012). This imprecise standard does not give details on what is instructed, but the teacher should be able to extrapolate that the topic of hurricanes will be discussed and how it affects the population or habitats. The ambiguity of the standard to a novice teacher could lead to a teacher not understanding that


hurricanes fall under this standard if no scope and sequence or an inadequate scope and sequence is provided. The national standards go much further in its explanation to state in content standard D in grades 5-8, "Internal and external processes of the earth system cause natural hazards, events that change or destroy human and wildlife habitats, damage property, and harm or kill humans. Natural hazards include earthquakes, landslides, wildfires, volcanic eruptions, floods, storms, and even possible impacts of asteroids (National Committee on Science, 1996). The national education standards are much clearer if the teacher takes the time to search through the 273-page document. The National standards even go further to explain that the teacher should discuss the rate and scale of the hurricanes to better understand how they could pose various problems to affected societies. The standards explore the subject matter in more depth than the Texas standards, as the teacher and the students understand what they should learn. In Canada, the standard for hurricanes is simple and to the point but lacks the ambiguity stated in the Texas standards. The Canadian standard 1.1 states "By the end of Grade 5, students will: analyses the effects of forces from natural phenomena (e.g., tornadoes, hurricanes, earthquakes, tsunamis) on the natural and built environment" (Ministry Of Education, 2007). However, they are written in a much different way for the ease of comprehension, in addition to giving information on instruction, the standards go further to show questions that the students should be able to answer. The students should be able to answer questions, for example, how a hurricane affects the habitat of birds, fish and animals. The three standards have commonalities however there are major discrepancies in content coverage and building on prior knowledge. The two national standards share a similar scaffolding style when building on the past knowledge and the subsequential years add new

STANDARDS DOCUMENT knowledge and application. Canada focuses on a few content areas every year, whereas the United States national standards are more comprehensive. Which style is better? Canada is ranked second in the world in education for Science so the choice should be simple (Photius Coutsoukis & OECD, 2012). However, it may not be in some aspects a better choice to American educators. As the United States goes through six areas to discuss content, the Canadian content only discusses four areas of content. The differences are apparent when you examine the layout attached as Table I. The Canadian standards are user friendly where the National standards for the United States at first glance appear to be just a simple list of random short standards. You must read further into the content book, where the standards are explicitly explain the instruction material and allows users to search the PDF book for the content they are looking for. Many educators may not take the time to investigate the standards and find that the National standards have more deficiencies than the state standards. The United States science standards fall short in substance where the Canadian standards incorporate more information to be instructed, this may be the reason Canada achieves a much higher ranking world education. Canada unifies their educational system with mandatory national standards. In the late 1980s, some states in our nation embarked on a more systematic course of educational reform (Baker

& Linn, 1997). In the United States education is a states right, therefore each state has their own standards, making fifty different curriculum design for the nation. In addition, each city/school district interprets these and each school can position the content as they are inclined. The national standards may be the advantage Canada has over the United States in their international test scores. Canada uses the educational standards as a way to set up curriculum for their country. Canadian teachers, parents, students, and administrators can easily look at the standards for each

STANDARDS DOCUMENT grade level and find what the student should learn by the end of the year. The content standard strands are easy to understand and include key questions which teachers may have a hard time discovering on their own. While the Canadian standards do not go over as much information in

one school year, they are able to give more in depth information for each topic. These standards are built on one another by adding new standards each year, instead of adding new pieces to the same standard as done in the United States. Since students have had the opportunity to learn the material in full detail, they do not need to build on their knowledge piece by piece as much as in the United States or in the State of Texas. United States national standards are set up in chunks for grades K-4, 5-8 and 9-12, which could lead to misunderstandings on the grade level responsibility to instructing a particular content topic. The state of Texas standards are known as the Texas Essential Knowledge Skills (TEKS). The TEKS are separated by grade level and scaffold grade by grade. The fifth grade is a part of the elementary school level and is the golden year of assessment for Science. Therefore, the TEKS reviews all the information the student has supposedly learned throughout the entirety of elementary education. In the TEKS, the state of Texas builds on introduction of topics in one grade and builds on the same topic in the subsequential years. However, in the elementary grades there is very little application of the knowledge that the students learn. As the students embark into the middle school years, they are thrust into a deeper level of understanding of the content and application. During each year, the students learn the same material with a few new added pieces to the puzzle and add to their schema. In fifth grade, although some new schematic information is introduced, the overall ideal is to review and assimilate knowledge from kindergarten through fifth grade. There has been much debate as to whether adopting the national standards would help the

STANDARDS DOCUMENT United States educational system. If so, will the current national standards need to be modified to become a more user-friendly document? Other nations have far out classed the United States when it comes to education in recent decades as seen in the International Science rankings (Photius Coutsoukis & OECD, 2012). These nations are able to produce students that score higher on SAT/ACT, stay in school until graduation and become lifelong learners. Since the United States is scoring low on the international level, what solutions should be adopted to improve our rankings in science? Creating a uniform detailed user-friendly national standard

would be a start. A legislative report in 2011 declared the State of Texas was last in high school graduation rates and 44th in the country for scores on college entry exams (Texas Legislative Study Group, 2011). Which poses the question, what kind of education are Texans affording their youth? Change is just a step away if teachers will stand up for their students. It seems to this teacher the pre-packaged curriculums are no more than a fast food diet. Students are the ultimate stakeholders. The future of the United States depends on how well students are educated so teachers need to focus on not only on the standards but how the instruction should take place in the classroom. The United States needs to look at the past, which witnessed excellence in education and returned to its roots. A time in education; when God was a vital part of instruction for morals, virtues, and responsible for ones own education. We, as citizens of the United States, must remember a Nation founded on God, will fall without God. Table I Content

5.1A demonstrate safe practices and the use of safety equipment as described in the Texas Safety Standards during classroom and outdoor investigations; and 5.1B make informed choices in

US National
NS.5-8.1 As a result of activities in grades 5-8, all students should develop: Abilities necessary to do

1.2.1 Follow established safety procedures for physical activities (e.g., make the teacher aware of any physical limitations that might affect ability to perform activities)

the conservation, disposal, and recycling of materials. 5.2A describe, plan, and implement simple experimental investigations testing one variable; 5.2B ask well-defined questions, formulate testable hypotheses, and select and use appropriate equipment and technology; 5.2C collect information by detailed observations and accurate measuring 5.2D analyze and interpret information to construct reasonable explanations from direct (observable) and indirect (inferred) evidence; 5.2E demonstrate that repeated investigations may increase the reliability of results; 5.2F communicate valid conclusions in both written and verbal forms; 5.2G construct appropriate simple graphs, tables, maps, and charts using technology, including computers, to organize, examine, and evaluate information. 5.3A in all fields of science, analyze, evaluate, and critique scientific explanations by using empirical evidence, logical reasoning, and experimental and observational testing, including examining all sides of scientific evidence of those scientific explanations, so as to 5.3B evaluate the accuracy of the information related to promotional materials for products and services such as nutritional labels; 5.3C draw or develop a model that represents how something works or looks that cannot be seen such as how a soda dispensing machine works; and 5.3D connect grade-level appropriate science concepts with the history of science, science careers, and scientific inquiry Understandings about scientific inquiry For an in-depth reading, see .php?record_id=4962

2.2.1 Follow established safety procedures for working with tools and materials (e.g., wear protective eyewear when testing structures to the breaking point) 2.2.3 Use scientific inquiry/research skills to investigate how structures are built to withstand forces 2.2.5 Use appropriate science and technology vocabulary, including tension, compression, torque, system, and load, in oral and written communication 2.2.6 Use a variety of forms (e.g., oral, written, graphic, multimedia) to communicate with different audiences and for a variety of purposes (e.g., make an oral presentation explaining the techniques they used to build a model of a bridge that can withstand vibrations from a train) 3.2.1 Follow established safety procedures for working with heating appliances and hot materials (e.g., switch hot plates off immediately after use)

Inquiry continued

contributions of scientists 5.4A collect, record, and analyze information using tools, including calculators, microscopes, cameras, computers, hand lenses, metric rulers, Celsius thermometers, prisms, mirrors, pan balances, triple beam balances, spring scales, graduated cylinders, beakers, hot plates, meter sticks, magnets, collecting nets, and notebooks; timing devices, including clocks and stopwatches; and materials to support observations of habitats or organisms such as terrariums and aquariums; 5.4B use safety equipment, including safety goggles and gloves. 5.9A observe the way organisms live and survive in their ecosystem by interacting with the living and non-living elements; 5.9B describe how the flow of energy derived from the Sun, used by producers to create their own food, is transferred through a food chain and food web to consumers and decomposers; 5.9C predict the effects of changes in ecosystems caused by living organisms, including humans, such as the overpopulation of grazers or the building of highways; 5.9D identify the significance of the carbon dioxide-oxygen cycle to the survival of plants and animals 5.10A compare the structures and functions of different species that help them live and survive such as hooves on prairie animals or webbed feet in aquatic animals; 5.10B differentiate between inherited traits of plants and animals such as spines on a

Life Science

NS.5-8.3 As a result of their activities in grades 5-8, all students should develop understanding Structure and function in living systems Reproduction and heredity Regulation and behavior Populations and ecosystems Diversity and adaptations of organisms For an in-depth reading, see .php?record_id=4962

Life Science continued

1.2.2 Use scientific inquiry/experimentation skills to investigate changes in body systems (e.g., heart rate, breathing, body temperature) as a result of physical activity (e.g., exercise, resting, eating) 1.2.3 Design and build a model to demonstrate how organs or components of body systems in the human body work and interact with other components (e.g., build a model that shows how muscles, bones, and joints in the human body work together as a system to allow movement of the arms or legs; build a model to show how the lungs and heart work as a system) 1.2.4 Use appropriate science and technology vocabulary, including circulation, respiration, digestion, organs, and nutrients, in oral and written communication 1.2.5 Use a variety of forms (e.g., oral, written, graphic, multimedia) to communicate with different audiences and for a variety of purposes (e.g.,

cactus or shape of a beak and learned behaviors such as an animal learning tricks or a child riding a bicycle; 5.10C describe the differences between complete and incomplete metamorphosis of insects.

create labeled charts or graphs to show changes in heart rate and breathing as a result of exercising) 1.3.1 Identify major systems in the human body (e.g., musculoskeletal system, digestive system, nervous system, circulatory system) and describe their roles and interrelationships 1.3.2 Describe the basic structure and function of major organs in the respiratory, circulatory, and digestive systems (e.g., we have two lungs; each one is about 2530 cm long and cone-shaped; the right lung is slightly bigger because it has three lobes and the left lung has only two; our lungs are responsible for gas exchanges) 1.3.3 Identify interrelationships between body systems (e.g., the respiratory system provides oxygen and removes carbon dioxide for the circulatory system) 1.3.4 Identify common diseases and the organs and/or body systems that they affect (e.g., epilepsy affects the brain [central nervous system]; appendicitis affects the appendix [digestive system]; asthma and emphysema affect the lungs [respiratory system]) 4.2.1 Follow established safety procedures for using tools and materials (e.g., use hand drills correctly when making holes in wood) 4.2.2 Use scientific inquiry/research skills to investigate issues related to energy and resource conservation (e.g., interview an Aboriginal person about his or her traditional teachings on conservation)

Life Science continued

History of Science Content is not introduced in the th 5 grade NS.5-8.7 As a result of activities in grades 5-8, all students should develop understanding of Science as a human endeavor Nature of science History of science For an in-depth reading, see .php?record_id=4962 Matter and Energy 5.5A classify matter based on physical properties, including mass, magnetism, physical state (solid, liquid, and gas), relative density (sinking and floating), solubility in water, and the ability to conduct or insulate thermal energy or electric energy; 5.5B identify the boiling and freezing/melting points of water on the Celsius scale; 5.5C demonstrate that some mixtures maintain physical properties of their ingredients such as iron filings and sand; and 5.5D identify changes that can occur in the physical properties of the ingredients of solutions such as dissolving salt in water or adding lemon juice to water. Content is not introduced in the th 5 grade

Content is not introduced in th the 5 grade

Matter and Energy continued

3.1.1 Evaluate the environmental impacts of processes that change one product into another product through physical or chemical changes 3.1.2 Assess the social and environmental impact of using processes that rely on chemical changes to produce consumer products, taking different perspectives into account (e.g., the perspectives of food manufacturers, consumers, landfill operators, people concerned about the environment), and make a case for maintaining the current level of use of the product or for reducing it 3.2.2 Measure temperature and mass, using appropriate instruments (e.g., a thermometer, a single-pan balance) 3.2.3 Use scientific inquiry/experimentation skills to investigate changes of state and changes in matter 3.2.4 Use scientific inquiry/experimentation skills to determine how the physical properties of materials make them useful for particular tasks (e.g., when cleaning up a liquid spill in the kitchen, which material is best suited to do the


job: a piece of sponge, a piece of terry cloth, a paper towel?) 3.2.5 Use appropriate science and technology vocabulary, including mass, volume, properties, matter, physical/reversible changes, and chemical/irreversible changes, in oral and written communication 3.2.6 Use a variety of forms (e.g., oral, written, graphic, multimedia) to communicate with different audiences and for a variety of purposes (e.g., create a labeled chart or graph to show the time required for an ice cube to melt completely) 3.3.1 Identify matter as everything that has mass and occupies space 3.3.2 Identify properties of solids, liquids, and gases (e.g., solids have definite volume and hold their shape; liquids have definite volume but take the shape of their container or spread when they are not contained; gases have no definite volume and take the volume and shape of their container or spread when they are not contained), and state examples of each 3.3.3 Explain changes of state in matter (e.g., evaporation, condensation, solidification or freezing, fusion or melting, sublimation), and give examples of each (e.g., water from wet clothes evaporates; steam from a boiling kettle condenses on a cold window; water in ponds and lakes solidifies or freezes in winter; a frozen treat melts on a warm summer day; a moth ball sublimates in the closet) 3.3.4 Describe physical changes in matter as changes that are reversible (e.g., a melted ice cube can be refrozen; a bottle of frozen water can be thawed

Matter and Energy continued


to a liquid state again; water vapor that has condensed on a cold window can evaporate into a vaporous state again; water from a puddle that has evaporated will fall to the ground as rain) 3.3.5 Describe chemical changes in matter as changes that are irreversible (e.g., when the chrome on a bicycle rusts, it can never go back to being chrome; when an egg is boiled it can never go back to being a raw egg) 3.3.6 Explain how changes of state involve the release of heat (e.g., when water freezes it releases heat) or the absorption of heat (e.g., when an ice cube melts, it absorbs heat) 3.3.7 Identify indicators of a chemical change (e.g., production of a gas, change in color, formation of precipitate) 3.3.8 Distinguish between a physical change and a chemical change (e.g., a physical change can be reversed [ice to water to ice], whereas a chemical change creates new substance[s] [wood to smoke and ash]) 4.2.4 Use appropriate science and technology vocabulary, including energy, heat, light, sound, electrical, mechanical, and chemical, in oral and written communication 4.2.5 Use a variety of forms (e.g., oral, written, graphic, multimedia) to communicate with different audiences and for a variety of purposes (e.g., in a small group, discuss ways in which technological innovations increase and/or decrease our ability to conserve energy) 4.3.1 Identify a variety of forms of energy (e.g., electrical, chemical, mechanical, heat,

Matter and Energy continued


light, kinetic) and give examples from everyday life of how that energy is used (e.g., electrical energy for cooking; chemical/electrical energy to run our cars; mechanical energy to hit a baseball; light energy for managing traffic on the roads; heat energy to warm homes and schools) 4.3.2 Identify renewable and non-renewable sources of energy (e.g., renewable: sun, wind, ocean waves and tides, wood; non-renewable: fossil fuels such as coal and natural gas) 4.3.3 Describe how energy is stored and transformed in a given device or system (e.g., in a portable electric device, chemical energy stored in a battery is transformed into electrical energy and then into other forms of energy such as mechanical, sound, and/or light energy) 4.3.4 Recognize that energy cannot be created or destroyed but can only be changed from one form to another (e.g., chemical energy in a battery becomes electrical energy) 4.3.5 Explain that energy that is apparently lost from a system has been transformed into other energy forms (usually heat or sound) that are not useful to the system (e.g., sound from a cars engine does not help the car move)

Force, Motion and Energy

5.6A explore the uses of energy, including mechanical, light, thermal, electrical, and sound energy; 5.6B demonstrate that the flow of electricity in circuits requires a complete path through which an electric current can pass and can produce light, heat, and

Content is not introduced in the th 5 grade

2.2.2 Measure and compare, quantitatively and/or qualitatively, the force required to move a load (e.g., to lift a book, to open a drawer) using different mechanical systems (e.g., different pulley systems, a lever, a gear system), and

sound; 5.6C demonstrate that light travels in a straight line until it strikes an object or travels through one medium to another and demonstrate that light can be reflected such as the use of mirrors or other shiny surfaces and refracted such as the appearance of an object when observed through water; and 5.6D design an experiment that tests the effect of force on an object

describe the relationship between the force required and the distance over which the force moves 2.3.1 Identify internal forces acting on a structure (e.g., compression [squeezing], tension [stretching]), and describe their effects on the structure 2.3.2 Identify external forces acting on a structure (e.g., the weight of people and furniture in a house, wind blowing on a tent, the movement caused by a passing train), and describe their effects on the structure, using diagrams 2.3.3 Explain the advantages and disadvantages of different types of mechanical systems (e.g., a hoist in a lifting system that comprises four pulleys will decrease the amount of force needed by four times, but the force will have to move four times as fast) 2.3.4 Describe forces resulting from natural phenomena that can have severe consequences for structures in the environment (e.g., a house loses its roof in a wind storm), and identify structural features that help overcome some of these forces (e.g., cross supports for roofs, steel beams in bridges) 2.3.5 Describe how protective sports equipment protects the body from the impact of forces (e.g., helmets reduce the intensity of the force of the impact, spreading the impact over a larger area and preventing direct impact to the skull; knee and shin pads spread the impact over a larger area and protect against cuts and scrapes)

Force, Motion and Energy continued

Physical Science Content is not introduced in the th 5 grade NS.5-8.2 As a result of their activities in grades 5-8, all students should develop an understanding Properties and changes of properties in matter Motions and forces Transfer of energy For an in-depth reading, see .php?record_id=4962 Social Science Content is not introduced in the th 5 grade NS.5-8.6 As a result of activities in grades 5-8, all students should develop understanding Personal health Populations, resources, and environments Natural hazards Risks and benefits Science and technology in society For an in-depth reading, see .php?record_id=4962

2.1.1 Analyze the effects of forces from natural phenomena (e.g., tornadoes, hurricanes, earthquakes, tsunamis) on the natural and built environment

Social Science continued

1.1.1 Assess the effects of social and environmental factors on human health, and propose ways in which individuals can reduce the harmful effects of these factors and take advantage of those that are beneficial 2.1.2 Evaluate the impact of society and the environment on structures and mechanisms, taking different perspectives into account (e.g., the perspectives of golfers, local bird-watching groups, families, a school board), and suggest ways in which structures and mechanisms can be modified to best achieve social and environmental objectives 4.1.1 Analyze the long-term impacts on society and the environment of human uses of energy and natural resources, and suggest ways to reduce these impacts (e.g., turning off the faucet while brushing teeth or washing and rinsing dishes conserves water; reusing or recycling products, or using fewer products, conserves natural resources and energy) Content is not introduced in th the 5 grade

Earth and Space

5.7A explore the processes that led to the formation of sedimentary rocks and fossil

NS.5-8.4 As a result of their activities in grades 5-8, all students should

fuels; 5.7B recognize how landforms such as deltas, canyons, and sand dunes are the result of changes to Earth's surface by wind, water, and ice; 5.7C identify alternative energy resources such as wind, solar, hydroelectric, geothermal, and 5.7D identify fossils as evidence of past living organisms and the nature of the environments at the time using models. biofuels; 5.8A differentiate between weather and climate; 5.8B explain how the Sun and the ocean interact in the water cycle; 5.8C demonstrate that Earth rotates on its axis once approximately every 24 hours causing the day/night cycle and the apparent movement of the Sun across the sky; 5.8D identify and compare the physical characteristics of the Sun, Earth, and Moon. Science and Technology Teacher is to incorporate as part of the Technology TEKS develop an understanding Structure of the earth system Earth's history Earth in the solar system For an in-depth reading, see .php?record_id=4962


NS.5-8.5 As a result of activities in grades 5-8, all students should develop Abilities of technological design Understandings about science and technology For an in-depth reading, see .php?record_id=4962

Science and Technology continued

1.1.1 Evaluate the effects, both beneficial and harmful, of various technologies on human body systems, taking different perspectives into account (e.g., the perspectives of the developers of the technologies, advertisers, children and young people, parents) 2.2.4 Use technological problem-solving skills to design, build, and test a frame structure (e.g., a bridge, a tower) that will withstand the application of an external force (e.g., a strong wind or simulated vibrations from a train) or a mechanical system that performs a specific function (e.g., a building crane) 4.1.2 Evaluates the effects of various technologies on energy consumption (e.g., improving


our homes insulation allows us to conserve heat and reduce energy consumption; aerodynamic design can improve the energy efficiency of cars and buses; household appliances designed to make our lives easier use large amounts of energy; some cars and recreational vehicles use energy less efficiently than others), and propose ways in which individuals can improve energy conservation 4.2.3 Use technological problem-solving skills to design, build, and test a device that transforms one form of energy into another (e.g., create a childs toy that uses the electrical energy from a battery or solar cell to move across the floor [kinetic energy] and make a noise [sound energy]), and examine ways in which energy is being lost in the device



Baker, E. L., & Linn, R. L. (1997). Emerging educational standards of performance in the United States. Retrieved from Ministry Of Education (2007). The Ontario Curriculum: Science & Technology. Retrieved from National Committee On Science Education Standards And Assessment, National Research Council (1996). National science education standards. Retrieved from Photius Coutsoukis, & Organisation For Economic Co-Operation And Development (OECD) (2012). Educational score performance - Country rankings. Retrieved July 15, 2012, from s_2009_oecd.html Texas Legislative Study Group (2011). Texas on the brink: How Texas ranks among the 50 states. Retrieved from The State Of Texas Education Agency (2012). Texas essential knowledge and skills for science. Retrieved from