Texas Earth Science Alliance

An Alliance to Promote Earth and Space Science in Texas Public Schools

by Steven Schafersman, Ph.D.
Earth and Space Science Educator

Please use www.texscience.org/earth/ to access this site.

Earth and Space Science (ESS) is the new high school, 12th-grade, capstone science course that combines earth science, ocean science, atmospheric science, and space science in a single course. In one year, high school seniors learn the basics and special topics of geology, oceanography, meteorology, and planetary astronomy in a course that builds upon the knowledge they learned in their earlier high school science courses of biology, chemistry, and physics. ESS continues the earth science instruction they received in the K-8 curriculum. The new course will be conceptually, quantitatively, and analytically rigorous, equal in this regard to the other science courses high school seniors will have already taken.

The Texas Earth Science Alliance (TESA) was created in 2004 by the former Texas Earth Science Task Force (ESTF), an entity authorized by the Texas State Board of Education in 2002, as a project to continue the work of the ESTF to add Earth and Space Science to the Texas High School Curriculum. The new ESS course will be designed as a fourth-year high school science course that follows biology, chemistry, and physics, thus completing and reinforcing student instruction in the three areas of modern science: life science, physical science, and earth science. Right now, instruction in earth science is inadequate or lacking in Texas and most other states, and the new coalition was formed to address and remedy this situation. TESA will review the entire K-12 earth science curriculum--not just the creation of the new ESS 12th-grade capstone course--and suggest additions or revisions as needed.

TESA will work to have earth science regain its proper place in K-12 science education in Texas within a new four-year science framework initiated in 2004 by the State Board of Education. The dissemination of Earth and Space Science knowledge among the students and citizens of Texas will greatly aid the state's society, business community, and enterprise culture, help to keep Texas science and technology talent within the state, and aid in preserving the state's natural areas and environmental integrity by engendering an appreciation for natural Earth areas and Earth processes. No state depends economically on earth science as much as Texas, so it is vital that Texas become a leader in earth science education.

Potential TESA members (science organizations, corporations and business alliances, state agencies, universities and academic organizations, and individuals) are being contacted now for their endorsement and assistance in this plan. Their names will be announced on this website in the future.

Texas Earth Science Task Force Works to Add Earth Science
to the Texas High School Curriculum

On May 7, 2004, the State Board of Education adopted an amendment to the Texas School Curriculum Requirements that would change high school graduation requirements to require four credits of science instead of three, starting in the Fall, 2011. In addition to the three traditional courses--one course of biology and two chosen from IPC, chemistry, and physics--students would now take a fourth course, one of which could be Earth Science (in Texas, the course is currently Geology, Meteorology, and Oceanography, or GMO, but in the future we plan for it to be Earth and Space Science, or ESS, a course based on the national earth and space science curriculum standards that are now being developed). The SBOE finalized this curriculum in July, 2004, contingent only upon adequate state funding of the fourth year of science by the Texas Legislature. Such funding is now anticipated in the 2005 Legislative Session, with full implementation in Fall, 2011 for the high school graduating class of 2012. Classroom and laboratory construction, curriculum and TEKS/TAKS creation, and teacher training and development will obviously take several years before full implementation is possible (please see the TEKS Review Calendar for the proposed timeline). UPDATE, May 14, 2006: The Texas Legislature just approved new state funding for, among other items, four years of science and mathematics for high school graduates (see article below).

The prospect of four years of high school science is undoubtedly a significant change in Texas K-12 education, giving Science the same importance in high schools as that now held by English and Social Studies (four courses of these two subjects are currently required, but only three of science and other subjects). The ESTF hopes that many or most students will choose Earth System Science as their senior-year science course, although in many high schools students will be able to choose among several others, including all AP (advanced placement) courses offered by their school. TESA hopes--and will work to ensure--that all Texas high schools will offer ESS in the future, thus making it the most popular choice of Texas high school students for a fourth-year science course.

Texas Earth Science Task Force Resources and Reports

Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills: Geology, Meteorology & Oceanography. This document can also be downloaded as a four-page PDF file.

Geology, Meteorology & Oceanography Curriculum Guide (PDF Only!). This extensive guide is 98 pages long and contains numerous valuable resources, including the course's scope and sequence, the course's TEKS curriculum requirements and TAKS requirements, lab and field materials, required safety equipment, links to virtual field trips and resources on the Web, helpful agencies and organizations, suggested research activities, suggested teaching guide, and suggested assessment questions.

Texas Science Education Leadership Association's (TSELA) Position Statement supporting Earth Science as a core science. TSELA joins the Science Teachers Association of Texas (STAT) and the Texas Earth Science Teachers Association (TESTA) in urging the Texas Education Agency and the State Board of Education to work together to designate earth science based courses as one of the optional courses which will satisfy the third year of mandated science instruction for high school graduation. This document can also be downloaded as a four-page PDF file.

(No) Earth Science in Texas by Edward C. Roy Jr., Geotimes, September 2001.

Earth Science in Texas by Chris Comer, Director of Science, TEA.

Geoscientists Defend Earth Science in Texas by David Lawrence, Geotimes, March 2002.

Earth Science in Texas: A Progress Report by Edward C. Roy Jr., Geotimes, September 2002.

Assessing Earth Science in Texas by Edward C. Roy Jr., Geotimes, February 2004.

Battle Brewing Over Earth-Science Classes in Texas Schools by Dave Ferman, Fort Worth Star-Telegram, March 14, 2004.

Report of the Earth Science Task Force, June 2003, presented to the State Board of Education.

Description of the Proposed Amendment to the Texas State Board of Education establishing Earth Science as a core science credit course, February 27, 2004 (this amendment ultimately did not pass).

Text of the Proposed Amendment changing the graduation requirements of high school students allowing Earth Science to be taken as a core science course (this amendment ultimately did not pass; will download as a PDF file).

Proposed 2007-2008 TEKS Review Calendar SCIENCE, Grades 1-12 This is the current (proposed) TEA timeline for implementation of the new TEA earth science curriculum.

Earth Science Task Force Status Report, October 29, 2003, by Chris Comer (the timeline presented in this PowerPoint presentation is no longer accurate, but its information is important for a historical perspective).

Texas Education Agency Websites of Interest to Earth Science Educators by Chris Comer.

Report of the Texas Earth Science Task Force to the State Board of Education, November 5. 2004, by Steven Schafersman.

Texas Legislature Adopts Four Years of Science and Math, May 14, 2006, by Steven Schafersman.

Earth and Space Science Resources

Earth Science Resources

Google Earth Resources

Ocean Science Resources (under construction)

Atmospheric Science Resources (under construction)

Space Science Resources (under construction)

Contact the TESA Web administrator at tcsATtexscience.org or infoATcybercomputing.com.
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Last updated: 2009 March 4