The University of Texas at Arlington College of Science 2012-13  

Lopez helping shape next generation of education standards

Ramon Lopez has been honored nationally for his role in elevating science education. So, it's only natural that he is involved in shaping the Next Generation Science Standards, an ongoing effort to create a new set of standards for K-12 science education in the United States.
In 2010, Lopez was asked to serve on the leadership team that would guide the work of a 41-member writing team composed of educators from numerous states. The process began with the development of a framework document that was produced by a committee of the National Research Council, the operating arm of the National Academy of Sciences. The writing team's first public draft of the standards was made available for public comments in May 2012 and the final draft version will be released in January. The final document will be released in March.
Thurman Jasper
Ramon Lopez
"Our goal is to provide educators with a roadmap for achieving the ambitious objectives of the Framework for K-12 Education, which outlines what the National Academies think is important for all students to know in science and engineering," Lopez said. "The NGSS will flesh out the framework and provide educators with a vision of what students who meet the goals of the framework can do, and how the practices, cross-cutting concepts, and core ideas weave together."
States have their own K-12 science standards. Texas' are among the most stringent in the nation and it is one of just two states that requires four years of science in high school. It will be up to individual states to decide if they want to adopt the NGSS as their own.
"There's no way you can design a one size fits all set of standards," Lopez said. "We have had considerable interaction with teams of educators from states that have indicated that they might well adopt the NGSS, so this effort really is a state-led effort. I expect that Texas will continue to develop its own standards, but I am certain that future iterations of those standards will pay attention to the Framework and the NGSS, just as previous Texas standards were cognizant of the AAAS Benchmarks and the NRC National Science Education Standards.
Lopez is also serving on a panel charged with reviewing departmental self-evaluation reports from South African undergraduate physics programs and compiling a report which is scheduled to be presented at a meeting in Johannesburg in January, after which a final document will be written.
Also in 2012, Lopez, a co-director of UT Arlington's UTeach Arlington teacher preparation program, was named a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and received the Edward A. Bouchet Award, a national honor that recognizes a minority physicist who has made significant contributions to physics research.