November 2003

 

THE UNIVERSITY OF THE STATE OF NEW YORK
STATE EDUCATION DEPARTMENT
OFFICE OF ELEMENTARY, MIDDLE, SECONDARY AND CONTINUING EDUCATION
ALBANY, NY 12234

 SCIENCE

The responses presented below are provided to address frequently asked questions related to the State Education Department’s documents pertaining to curriculum, instruction and assessment in science. The following source documents may be accessed using the accompanying website links: 

·       The Regulations of the Commissioner of Education Relating to General Education and Diploma Requirements – Part 100  http://www.p12.nysed.gov/part100/opener.html

·       Science core curricula: Elementary Level Science Core Curriculum (K-4), Intermediate Level Science Core Curriculum (5-8),  Living Environment, The Physical Setting/Earth Science, The Physical Setting/Chemistry, and the Physical Setting/Physics http://www.p12.nysed.gov/ciai/mst/scirg.html 

·       The following support documents are also available from the Department:   

School Administrators Manual (SAM) http://www.p12.nysed.gov/osa/hsinfogen/hsinfogenarch/sam2001.pdf

Curriculum, Instruction & Assessment - Science  http://www.p12.nysed.gov/ciai/mst/sci.html

Curriculum, Instruction & Assessment - Science Publications http://www.p12.nysed.gov/ciai/pub/pubsci.html 

General Program Requirements in Science 

1.         What is a core curriculum in science?

Core curricula in science provide guidelines to assist schools in developing K-12 curriculum in science content areas.  The Department has developed core curricula in science for elementary, intermediate and commencement levels. The following core curricula in science are available from the Department: Elementary Level Science Core Curriculum (K-4), Intermediate Level Science Core Curriculum (5-8), Living Environment Core Curriculum, The Physical Setting/Earth Science Core Curriculum, The Physical Setting/Chemistry Core Curriculum, and The Physical Setting/Physics Core Curriculum. All science core curricula are derived from the New York State Learning Standards for Mathematics, Science, and Technology and designed to facilitate attainment of these standards [100.1(1)(t)(1)(ii)].

2.         Is the entire core curriculum in the sciences available at this time 

Yes. All science core curricula are available on the State Education Department website at http://www.p12.nysed.gov/ciai/mst/scirg.html.

 3.         Are all State assessments in science based on science core curricula?

Yes. All statewide assessments in science at elementary, intermediate and commencement levels measure student attainment of the content, concepts and skills provided in the New York State Learning Standards for Mathematics, Science, and Technology and science core curricula [100.1(2)].

 4.         Are Academic Intervention Services (AIS) in science
             required for low-performing students?

Commissioner’s Regulations require the provision of AIS in grades 4 – 12 based on student’s performance on elementary, intermediate, or graduation examinations, no later than the beginning of the semester following a determination that a student needs such services [100.2(ee)]. Qualified and appropriately certified staff should provide AIS. (See Guidelines for Implementing AIS, memo from James A. Kadamus, January 2000; http://www.p12.nysed.gov/docs/AISQAweb.pdf

Program Requirements in Science for Elementary-Level (Kindergarten through Grade 4) 

5.         What are the program requirements in science for the
           
elementary level?
 

All students must be provided instruction in science at each grade level [100.3(b)(1)(i)] that is designed to facilitate attainment of the New York State Learning Standards for Mathematics, Science and Technology, as articulated in the Elementary-Level Science Core Curriculum. 

6.         How is student attainment of the learning standards in science measured at the elementary level?  

Administered at grade 4, The New York State Program Evaluation Test in Science or ESPET, as it is sometimes called in the field, is designed to assess student’s acquisition of content, concepts, and skills in the New York State Elementary Science Syllabus; the New York State Learning Standards for Mathematics, Science, and Technology; and the Elementary-Level Science Core Curriculum. The current objective test “Form H” and performance test “Form Z” will be administered through May 2003. However, both test forms will remain secure. 

In May 2004, the Grade 4 Elementary-Level Science Test (ELS) will be introduced. The ELS test will assess the attainment of content, concepts, and skills of the New York State Learning Standards for Mathematics, Science, and Technology as presented in the Elementary-Level Science Core Curriculum (K-4) [100.3(b)(2)(i)(d)].

The Elementary Science Alignment Guide is available on the Department’s website and provides additional information about the features of the new Grade 4 Elementary-Level Science Test scheduled for first administration in May 2004. Please refer to the following SED website link for additional information. http://www.p12.nysed.gov/ciai/mst/scialign.pdf

Program Requirements in Science for the Intermediate-Level (Grades 5 through 8) 

7.         What are the program requirements in science for Grades 5
            and 6?

All students must be provided instruction in science at each grade level [100.3(b)(1)(i)] designed to facilitate attainment of the New York State Learning Standards for Mathematics, Science and Technology as presented in the Intermediate-Level Science Core Curriculum (5-8). 

8.         What are the program requirements in science for Grades 7
            and 8?
 

All students must be provided instruction in two units of study in science; one unit of study completed in grade 7; one unit of study completed in grade 8 [100.4(b)(1)(iii)], so that, by the conclusion of Grade 8, students have knowledge of the intermediate-level science skills concepts, and content as presented in the New York State Learning Standards for Mathematics, Science, Technology and the Intermediate-Level Science Core Curriculum (5-8). The Grade 8 Intermediate-Level Science Test (ILS) is administered in Grade 8 [100.4(d)(4)]. 

9.         May a student earn high school credit in the sciences prior to entering grade 9? 

Yes.  Students may be accelerated in a commencement-level science course in Grade 8  [100.4(c)] if they meet local criteria set by the school district and/or the State Education Department. This course must culminate in a Regents examination in science at the conclusion of Grade 8.

Program Requirements in Science for the Commencement-Level (High School) 

10.       What are the requirements in science for a Regents diploma for students entering Grade 9 in 2001 and beyond? 

Students entering Grade 9 in Fall 2001 and beyond must earn three units of credit in science.  The three units must be comprised of commencement-level science courses aligned with the New York State Learning Standards in Mathematics, Science, and Technology, including one course from the Physical Setting (physical science) and one course from the Living Environment (life science).  The third may be from either life sciences or physical sciences [100.5(a)(3)(iii)].  All commencement-level science courses, including specialized courses, must include laboratory activities. Students who take commencement-level science courses based on New York State’s science core curricula (Living Environment, Physical Setting/Earth Science, Physical Setting/Chemistry, and Physical Setting/Physics) must successfully complete the State-mandated laboratory requirement.  Completion of this requirement includes 1200 minutes of hands-on laboratory experience with satisfactory laboratory reports and prepares students for the corresponding Regents examination in science. Students must pass one Regents examination in science [100.5(a)(5)(i)(d)(3)]. 

The third credit in science may be a commencement-level science course derived from one of the four core curriculum areas; a specialized course, including an elective such as an advanced placement and other externally developed courses in life sciences and/or the physical sciences derived from Standards 1, 2, 4, 6, and, 7 of the New York State Learning Standards in Mathematics, Science, and Technology; a Technology education course; or a MST integrated course [100.5(b)(7)(iv)]. A commencement-level course in technology education may be used as the third unit of credit in science or mathematics, but not both [100.5(b)(7)(iv)(j)]. 

11.       What are the requirements in science for a student who wishes to earn a Regents diploma with advanced designation? 

In order to earn a Regents diploma with advanced designation, students must earn three units of credit in commencement-level science. Two units of credit must be earned through completion of courses based on science core curricula, one from the Physical Setting (physical sciences) and one from Living Environment (life science). Those two courses must culminate in a Regents examination in science. Students must pass two Regents examinations in science, with at least one from the Living Environment (life sciences) and one from the Physical Setting (physical sciences) [100.5(7)(v)(b)]. 

12.       May a student be exempted from the Regents diploma testing requirements in science? 

Beginning in the 2004-2005 school year and thereafter, the principal may exempt a student who enters a registered New York high school for the first time in grade 12 from the requirement for the State Regents examination in science [100.5(d)(5)(iv)(b)].  

13.       What are the Department approved alternatives to State
            assessments in science?
 

A current listing of Department-approved alternative examinations [100.5(a)(5)(ii)] in science is maintained by the Office of State Assessment and posted on the Department’s web site at: http://www.p12.nysed.gov/osa/hsgen/list.htm

14.       What courses lead to meeting the diploma requirements for
            science?

Commencement-level science courses derived from the Learning Standards in Mathematics, Science, and Technology and Standards may be applied toward fulfillment of Regents diploma requirements. [100.1(1)(t)(1)(ii)], [100.5(a)(3)(iii)]. At a minimum these must include one unit of credit from the Physical Setting (physical science) and one unit of credit from the Living Environment (life science) and one unit of credit in either Physical Setting (physical science) and the Living Environment (life science). Science courses that are derived from one of the four commencement-level science core curricula (Physical Setting/Chemistry, Physical Setting/Earth Science, Living Environment, and Physical Setting/Physics) must include the State-mandated 1200 minute laboratory requirement with satisfactory laboratory reports and culminate in a corresponding Regents examination in science.

Specialized courses in science that are derived from the Standards 1, 2, 4, 6 and 7 of the New York State Learning Standards for Mathematics, Science, and Technology must be approved by the appropriate school official, usually the Superintendent. These courses may include laboratory activities within the regular classroom instructional meeting time, or may include additional laboratory associated with earning a unit of credit, but they do not include the State-mandated laboratory requirement and do not end in a Regents examination for science. 

15.       May extended courses be taught in the sciences? 

A three or four semester commencement-level science course that culminates in a Regents examination in science may be offered to students who need additional time to earn credit towards attainment of diploma requirements for science. Credit may be offered at 0.5 credits per semester, i.e., 1.5 credits for a three-semester course, and 2.0 credits for a four-semester course. All students must complete the State-mandated laboratory requirement to be eligible to take a Regents examination in science. The State-mandated laboratory requirement for an extended course in science that culminates in a Regents examination in science may be satisfied in the following ways:  

1)         The last two semesters of a commencement-level extended science course must include the State-mandated laboratory requirement in addition to the required classroom instruction associated with earning a unit of credit.   

2)         The State-mandated laboratory requirement may be extended over each semester of the commencement-level extended course in science; however, laboratory activities must be in addition to the required classroom instruction associated with earning a unit of credit.   

16.       May an elective course in science be taken first?  

Yes. A student entering grade 9 in September 2001 and beyond may take a commencement-level science elective course or pre-course to prepare for a commencement-level course which culminates in a Regents examination in science. Examples of such courses are: math/science/technology skills and content; basic skills in science, and extended courses (see question 14 for additional information on commencement-level extended courses). 

17.       May a student "challenge" a Regents examination in science to earn credit?  

With the approval of an appropriate school official  (the Superintendent or designee in public schools, and usually the principal in non-public schools) a student may earn credit by examination only if the State-mandated laboratory requirement, including 1200 minutes of hands-on laboratory with satisfactory laboratory reports, has been completed. Additionally, the student must meet the requirements as stated in Regulations of the Commissioner of Education [Part 100.5(d)(1)], including passing the Regents examination in science with a score of no less than 85. 

18.       Must a commencement-level science curriculum be aligned with the New York State Learning Standards? 

Yes. All science courses must be aligned with the New York State Learning Standards for Mathematics, Science, and Technology [100.1(1)(t)(l)(ii)]. Commencement-level science courses that culminate in a Regents examination in science must derive from one the following science core curricula: Living Environment, Physical Setting/Earth Science, Physical Setting/Chemistry, and Physical Setting/Physics.  

19.       Who develops course curricula for commencement-level
            sciences?
 

It is the responsibility of the school district, charter school, and/or non-public school to develop and implement curriculum for science courses. Curriculum guidance for commencement-level science courses that culminate in a Regents Examination in science is provided in the commencement-level science core curricula in Physical Setting/Chemistry, Physical Setting/Earth Science, Living Environment, and Physical Setting/Physics that derive from the New York State Learning Standards for Mathematics, Science, and Technology. 

20.       What is the laboratory requirement for admission to a Regents examination in science? 

For admission to a Regents examination in science, a student must complete the State- mandated laboratory requirement. The laboratory component must be provided in addition to the required classroom instruction associated with earning a unit of credit and must include 1200 minutes of hands-on laboratory with satisfactory laboratory reports [100.5(b)(7)(iv)(d)]. Laboratory reports must be kept on file for at least six months after the student takes a Regents examination in science.  

21.       May a science course be offered for more than one unit of
           
credit?
 

No.  

22.       Must the laboratory requirement be met prior to admission to a State Regents examination in science?

Yes. Schools are permitted to establish a target date for the completion and submission of the laboratory requirement at any time, but no later than one week prior to the administration of any component of a Regents examination in science.

The Department strongly recommends that the laboratory requirement be completed again by all students who fail any commencement–level science course. 

23.       May a school administrator or teacher exempt a student from the laboratory requirement? 

No. All students must complete the laboratory requirement.  Students who are hospitalized, homebound, or home-schooled may be given comparative laboratories or alternative laboratories.

Special Needs Students 

24.       Must students with disabilities meet the science laboratory requirement for admission to the Regents examination in a science? 

All students must meet the State-mandated laboratory requirements described in the answer to question # 20.

25.       What accommodations may be used in the science laboratory
            setting?
 

All accommodations as indicated in the student's Individualized Educational Plan (IEP) must be applied to the laboratory setting as needed. For example, a student with a visual impairment may have a laboratory partner or an aide report observations to the student. The student, however, must manipulate the data or make inferences from the observed data. 

26.       What is the science teacher’s responsibility in implementing
            the IEP?

According to Part 200, Regulations of the Commissioner of Education Relating to General Education and Diploma Requirements [200.4 (e)(3)], the school district must ensure that each science teacher who is responsible for the implementation of a student’s IEP shall have access to a copy of the IEP. Science teachers shall be informed by the school district of responsibilities related to implementing the student’s IEP, specific accommodations, and in providing supports in accordance with the IEP. 

27.       What accommodations in testing procedures are permitted or required on New York State science assessments? 

As long as the accommodations do not alter the constructs being tested, students may be entitled to testing accommodations for:

·       temporary disability (e.g., broken arms, hospitalization)

·       § 504 plans

·       IEP accommodations

 

The implementation of these accommodations can be found in the most recent copy of the Regents Examinations, Regents Competency Tests, and Proficiency Examinations: School Administrators Manual, as well as in Part 200 of the Regulations of the Commissioner of Education Relating to General Education and Diploma Requirements.