FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact Marilyn Suiter: (703) 379-2480
October 28, 1996E-mail:

Bybee to Lead Session on Earth-Science Education Standards at GSA Annual Meeting in Denver

ALEXANDRIA, VA. - Dr. Rodger W. Bybee, one of the nation's leading science educators, will direct a "Discussion and Commentary" session at the annual meeting of the Geological Society of America to examine ways for earth-science educators and curriculum planners to meet the goals set forth in the National Science Education Standards, published earlier this year by the National Research Council (NRC). The session takes place in the Colorado-G Room of the Marriott City Center in Denver on Monday, Oct. 28, from 2 to 3 p.m. A press briefing in the same room begins at 1:00 p.m.

"The fact that the National Science Education Standards treat earth science as a distinct discipline makes a powerful statement about its place in school science programs," says Bybee. The Standards mark an important turning point in earth-science education and reflect a growing awareness that knowledge of Earth systems is essential to modern society. Once a subtopic within physical and life-science curricula, the study of earth and space sciences is now treated as an equal component.

Bybee is executive director of the research council's Center for Science, Mathematics, and Engineering Education and chaired the science content working group one of the major components of the Standards. He'll be joined by a panel of educators who also worked on developing the NRC report: Charles G. Groat, Bonnie J. Brunkhorst, and Robert W. Ridky.

The "Discussion and Commentary" session is hosted by the American Geological Institute. "One of the major questions we'll be addressing during this session is how to use the Standards to improve science education for all American students," says Marilyn J. Suiter, director of AGI's Education and Human Resources (EHR) Department. "What is a standard? What earth-science content should be covered in a Standards-based curriculum? How can geoscientists support the strong presence of earth science in the instructional materials now being developed to implement the Standards?"

The Standards recognize the unique diversity of the American educational system in which 50 state departments of education and thousands of school boards, as well as numerous federal agencies, have equal voice in deciding curricula. While shared power between federal, state, and local governments is considered the foundation of American society, a new report released earlier this month suggests that such a system consistently hampers the ability of policy makers to create necessary changes. This report, A Splintered Vision: The Status Quo of U.S. Science and Mathematics Education, published by the Third International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS), will also be addressed during the "Discussion and Commentary" session on Oct. 28.

The National Research Council, the operating arm of the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering, coordinated the effort to develop national standards for science education. The goal was to develop standards that represent the consensus of teachers and other science educators, scientists, and the general public about what constitutes quality science education for all students. The research council was selected unanimously for this task by the National Science Teachers Association, U.S. Department of Education, Education and Human Resources Directorate of the National Science Foundation, National Educational Goals Panel, National Institutes of Health, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, and several scientific societies.

The American Geological Institute, established in 1948, provides information services to a worldwide geoscience community. AGI coordinates improvements in earth-science education, offers scholarship assistance to minority students, and works to increase public awareness of the vital role geology plays in our society.

Biographical Profiles

Dr. Rodger W. Bybee

Dr. Rodger W. Bybee participated in the development of the National Science Education Standards from 1992 to 1995, and chaired the content working group of that project. Prior to this appointment, he served as associate director of the Biological Sciences Curriculum Study. He was principal investigator for several National Science Foundation programs, including an elementary school program, Science for Life and Living; a middle-school program, Middle School Science and Technology; a high-school program, Biological Sciences: A Human Approach; and a college program, Biological Perspectives.

Dr. Bybee has been active in education for more than 30 years. He has taught science at the elementary, middle school, senior-high school, and college levels. From 1972-1985, he was professor of education at Carleton College in Minnesota. Throughout his career, he has written widely, publishing in both education and psychology.

Panel Members

Dr. Charles G. Groat, Director of the Center for Environmental Resource Management at the University of Texas at El Paso

Dr. Bonnie J. Brunkhorst, California State University at San Bernardino

Dr. Robert W. Ridky, program officer in the National Science Foundation's Education and Human Resources Directorate (on leave from the Department of Geology, University of Maryland at College Park)

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