Guidance for Science Equivalency Applications
The Department of Public Instruction is committed to expanding opportunities for students to meet graduation requirements. Providing students with alternate pathways to a science credit makes a lot of sense to engage them in authentic ways, relevant to their lives and future plans. We need to ensure that students reach a level of scientific literacy that will enable them to make informed decisions as a citizen and to be able to keep learning valid, evidence-based science information throughout their lives. Though, regardless of DPI approval, please note that acceptance of science equivalent courses is determined by individual institutions of higher education (IHE).
Do I need to submit paperwork for science equivalency?
- Yes, if you have a course taught by a CTE-licensed teacher and want the DPI badge of approval for equivalency to share with IHEs.
- No, if you have a traditional CTE course (ag science, forestry, engineering) that will be taught by a science licensed teacher. This course will be a science elective, as determined by the high school/district, and does not require equivalency. The course could not give students CTE credit on their transcript unless the teacher also held that credential.
Ensuring Solid Science Learning in an Equivalent Course
In regard to science equivalency applications, keep in mind applications should be specific in outlining science content that involves meaningful scientific inquiry and practice. Below are a few questions and ideas to consider as you plan your course and complete the application:
- What evidence do you provide that students are engaged in “doing” authentic science, not just learning about it? Students should be asking questions, designing and conducting investigations, and using data and evidence to make arguments. They will ideally be asked to explore real-world phenomena and design solutions to real-world problems, not just be led lockstep through content and pre-determined, “cookie-cutter” labs.
- What verbs are you using in your crosswalk and syllabi? How are you showing that students will be engaged in higher levels of thinking and depth of knowledge?
- How will you be assessing students? Do assessments tend to focus on memorization or do they include authentic practice and application of science understanding?
- Is the level of rigor appropriate for a high school course? Ideally, students will not be receiving high school credit for something they should have been able to do in middle school.
- How does this course fit into a coherent progression of science learning in high school?
Note on Standards Used:
- Equivalency applications should use the new CTE standards.
- We now have new Wisconsin Standards for Science (WSS), based on the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). We encourage districts to use these standards (or their local standards as appropriate) within their applications. Alignment to the WSS or NGSS should include connections to disciplinary core ideas, practices, and crosscutting concepts. Specific details are particularly welcome on how students are engaging with authentic use of the science practices in projects and assessments.