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Pennsylvania's Science and Technology and Environment and Ecology Standards

In September 2019, the State Board of Education directed the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) to begin the process of updating Pennsylvania's science standards to align them with current research and best practices, including a review of Next Generation Science Standards.

Since 2002, the State Board of Education's  regulations have included two sets of science standards – Science and Technology, and Environment and Ecology – which serve as the basis for curriculum development and instruction in schools. Both sets of standards took effect on January 5, 2002.

PDE's examination of the academic standards included input from the public. A series of stakeholder engagement sessions were held across the state and virtually – the public was invited to attend and provide input. Access a detailed report of all stakeholder input compiled to inform the recommendations of the committee drafting the new standards.

PDE sought volunteer content experts to serve on a committee drafting the new standards. On May 6, 2020, the State Board approved 60 education professionals to serve on the Content Committee and an additional 18 individuals to serve on a Steering Committee to work in tandem with the Content Committee. In the summer of 2020, the Committees reviewed research and developed recommendations for updated standards.

On September 9, 2020, the State Board of Education voted to adopt as a proposed regulation (Chapter 4) the three sets of science standards recommended by the committees: Pennsylvania Integrated Standards for Science, Environment, Ecology, Technology and Engineering (Grades K-5); Pennsylvania Integrated Standards for Science, Environment and Ecology (Grades 6-12); and Pennsylvania Technology and Engineering Standards (Grades 6-12) (reflected in Appendix B-1 of Chapter 4).

For 30 days following June 5, 2021, the proposed rulemaking was published for a public comment period. The Board received and considered comments from educators, environmental organizations, legislators, the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, county conservation districts, professional associations, and the public, as well as comments from the Independent Regulatory Review Commission (IRRC). 

To address stakeholder concerns specific to the content of the proposed new standards and to facilitate building consensus surrounding those concerns, the Board sought additional input from content experts. The Academic Standards/Chapter 4 Committee of the State Board of Education directed PDE to reconvene the Science Standards Content Committee and Steering Committee to develop additional recommendations for the Committee's consideration.

The Science Standards Content and Steering Committees met extensively throughout the fall of 2021 to consider and respond to the charge presented to them. On December 1, 2021, the Academic Standards/Chapter 4 Committee held a special meeting to receive recommendations from the Content and Steering Committees on stakeholder concerns related to the academic content of the new proposed standards. 

On January 13, 2022, the Board adopted final-form amendments to Chapter 4. These final-form amendments include updates to the new science standards to address stakeholder concerns, including the addition of a new domain for ''Environmental Literacy and Sustainability'' across all grade levels. This fifth domain incorporates essential principles of environmental education organized under the following three core ideas: 1) Agricultural and Environmental Systems and Resources; 2) Environmental Literacy Skills; and 3) Sustainability and Stewardship.

On July 16, 2022, the Pennsylvania Bulletin published the final-form amendments to Chapter 4, following review and approval by the Independent Regulatory Review Commission and the Attorney General. These final-form amendments took effect upon publication.

To support schools' implementation of the new integrated standards for science, environment & ecology, and technology & engineering, there will be a three-year implementation window. Effective June 30, 2025, the academic standards for Science and Technology (2002) and Environment and Ecology (2002) will be sunset.  The following three new sets of standards will be fully integrated into classroom instruction by the 2025-26 school year: