Lauren Jensen and Dave Masterman talked to Gerald (Gerry) F. Wheeler, Ph.D., Executive Director, National Science Teacher's Association (NSTA)
following his discussion of the The National Science Education Standards and teaching into the next century.
"The Achilles heel of the National Science Education Standards is the implementation of assessment," said Dr. Wheeler.
Teachers need to find assessment methods that test what they want students to learn. All too often, teachers use multiple choice exams unrelated to the skills and processes they expect students to demonstrate, he noted.
When asked what role NSTA will have in the implementation of assessment standards, Dr. Wheeler reflected that "while they (NSTA) wonšt be creating assessment items, NSTA sees itself as the keeper of conversations. Their role will be to maintain open dialogs and facilitate conversations among all the parties involved in reforming assessment."
Before schools become what the business communities call a learning organizationš, the administrators will need to feel more empowered. The vehicle for this to occur is the collaboration among community leaders, administrators, and teachers.
He also spoke of the incompetent teacher. "The problem is the teacher that everyone knows is doing a bad job. When we as professionals decide what our options are, we may have to give up something ourselves. That may be the only way to get rid of them. This person is doing damage to kids by just giving out Ašs."
NSTA is very committed to establishing a point of contact in every one of the 110,000 school buildings across America, says Dr. Wheeler. It will involve establishing a unique point of contact, who may or may not be a NSTA member, with online conferencing ability. If that person indicates a problem needs immediate discussion, there can be a 24-hour turn-around time with answers.
"So it is a little less of a dialog forum than Access Excellence is, but more like a just-in-time electronic resource service." "...like a union-rep model with a presence for science (teachers). The rep would be the point of contact for people in the building who have questions about science teaching."
A second grade teacher might say 'What could I do in science education?' The point person would get online to help her obtain resources, faxes, or other materials to assist them in any variety of ways.
In other news, in the first Fall meeting in Phoenix, October 17th, NSTA will exhibit a unique, three way satellite uplink. Apple Computer, Sally Rider from NASA, and Secretary Riley will participate in facilitating a community discussion of the Standards throughout the country. This dialog should benefit the entire teaching community and set a positive tone for many discussions to come. We at Access Excellence wish them the best of luck for a successful dialog.
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