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Final Science Standards Approved

On November 15, 2001, the Pennsylvania Independent Regulatory Review Commission (IRRC) unanimously approved the latest version of the Science and Technology education standards proposed by the state’s Board of Education (BoE). This is the last step before adoption and implementation of the standards, which will be reviewed again in five years.

The revised standards were produced by the BoE after the IRRC rejected an earlier version, which contained several statements singling out evolution as a theory in need of special questioning by students and included requirements for teachers to present "evidence against evolution". The IRRC ruled in July, 2001 that these proposed standards were unclear and their implementation was likely to be burdensome. Furthermore, they did not clearly relate to the stated intent of their proposers, to promote critical thinking. They were redundant and unnecessary. given that the BoE had also provided a separate section on critical thinking about the process and outcome of scientific investigation.

The IRRC's ruling exactly paralleled comments made by NCSE members and allies in the Pennsylvania Science Teachers' Association, the ACLU of Pennsylvania, the Freedom to Learn Network, the Pennsylvania Alliance for Democracy, the Pennsylvania State Education Association, and numerous other organizations and individuals interested in science education. NCSE members and allies in Pennsylvania are now preparing to support the BoE in its development of statewide mastery exams that include evolution as a fundamental concept in the life sciences.