Science Guidelines Questioned, History Standards Approved

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TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) _ Kansas officials involved in drafting new science standards for public schools are trying to reassure the State Board of Education that retraining teachers and buying new classroom materials won't be unusually expensive.

The issue arose during the board's meeting Tuesday when members reviewed a final draft of the proposed standards.

The science guidelines were developed by 26 states, including Kansas, and the National Research Council. The Kansas board doesn't plan to decide until at least June whether to adopt the standards as the state's own.

Board members Deena Horst of Salina and Jim McNiece of Wichita both worried about the potential costs facing local school districts.

But state Department of Education official Matt Krehbiel aid schools can retrain teachers over time and buy new books on their regular schedules.

Earlier in the day Tuesday, board members approved new standards for history and social studies classes for public schools despite concerns that they don't focus enough on the contributions of minorities.

The board's vote was 9-0. The guidelines will be used to develop standardized tests for students, with the state using their scores to measure how well schools are teaching.

Board member Carolyn Campbell, a Topeka Democrat, said she does not believe the standards go far enough in making sure that schools teach students about the contributions of blacks and other minorities.

However, Campbell said they are an improvement over the previous standards, adopted in 2004.

Supporters of the new guidelines say they emphasize teaching student research skills over memorizing content.