Monday, October 6, 2014

NGSS The Next Generation Science Standards

Has your state signed up for the Next Generation Science Standards?   Is your state intending to use a modified version of the Next Generation Science Standards and call them something different?  If yes to either of these questions, here are a few things you need to know.  

What are the Next Generation Science Standards?

Next Generation Science Standards for Today’s Students and Tomorrow’s Workforce:  Through a collaborative, state-led process managed by Achieve, new K–12 science standards have been developed that are rich in content and practice, arranged in a coherent manner across disciplines and grades to provide all students an internationally benchmarked science education. The NGSS is based on the Framework for K–12 Science Educationdeveloped by the National Research Council.

How were they developed and what organizations participated? 

The National Research Council (NRC) of the National Academy of Sciences managed the first of two steps in the creation of the Next Generation Science Standards by developing the A Framework for K-12 Science Educationwhich was released July 2011.
The Framework provides a sound, evidence-based foundation for standards by drawing on current scientific researchincluding research on the ways students learn science effectively—and identifies the science all K–12 students should know.
To undertake this effort, the NRC convened a committee of 18 individuals who are nationally and internationally known in their respective fields. The committee included practicing scientists, including two Nobel laureates, cognitive scientists, science education researchers, and science education standards and policy experts. In addition, the NRC used four design teams to develop the Framework. These four design teams, in physical science, life science, earth/space science, and engineering, developed the Framework sections for their respective disciplinary area.
After releasing a public draft in July of 2010, the NRC reviewed comments and considered all feedback prior to releasing the final Framework. The Framework is now being used as the foundation for the Next Generation Science Standards in a collaborative, state-led process that is managed by Achieve.

What are the three dimensions that will be a key component of the standards?

The National Research Council's (NRC) Framework describes a vision of what it means to be proficient in science; it rests on a view of science as both a body of knowledge and an evidence-based, model and theory building enterprise that continually extends, refines, and revises knowledge. It presents three dimensions that will be combined to form each standard:
The practices describe behaviors that scientists engage in as they investigate and build models and theories about the natural world and the key set of engineering practices that engineers use as they design and build models and systems. The NRC uses the term practices instead of a term like “skills” to emphasize that engaging in scientific investigation requires not only skill but also knowledge that is specific to each practice. Part of the NRC’s intent is to better explain and extend what is meant by “inquiry” in science and the range of cognitive, social, and physical practices that it requires.
Although engineering design is similar to scientific inquiry, there are significant differences. For example, scientific inquiry involves the formulation of a question that can be answered through investigation, while engineering design involves the formulation of a problem that can be solved through design. Strengthening the engineering aspects of the Next Generation Science Standards will clarify for students the relevance of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (the four STEM fields) to everyday life.

Crosscutting concepts have application across all domains of science. As such, they are a way of linking the different domains of science. They include: Patterns, similarity, and diversity; Cause and effect; Scale, proportion and quantity; Systems and system models; Energy and matter; Structure and function; Stability and change. The Framework emphasizes that these concepts need to be made explicit for students because they provide an organizational schema for interrelating knowledge from various science fields into a coherent and scientifically-based view of the world.

Disciplinary core ideas have the power to focus K12 science curriculum, instruction and assessments on the most important aspects of science. To be considered core, the ideas should meet at least two of the following criteria and ideally all four:
  • Have broad importance across multiple  sciences or engineering disciplines or be a key organizing concept of a single discipline; 
  • Provide a key tool for understanding or investigating more complex ideas and solving problems;
  • Relate to the interests and life experiences of students or be connected to societal or personal concerns that require scientific or technological knowledge;
  • Be teachable and learnable over multiple grades at increasing levels of depth and sophistication.
Disciplinary ideas are grouped in four domains: the physical sciences; the life sciences; the earth and space sciences; and engineering, technology and applications of science.
You can see the specific standards at this link

All information on this blog post comes from

My personal response to NGSS:
I like the Next Generation Science Standards which seem to have a greater emphasis on students understanding complex ideas than on memorizing a bunch of facts.  I love that the practices are based in research and encourage higher level thinking. I also like that an emphasis on doing science exists and also an emphasis in having students explain their thinking both verbally and in writing.  As an educator I am glad to see inquiry based lessons with hands-on materials being encouraged.  Personally, I am also happy that some of my favorite things to do in science instruction like the 5-e learning cycle model of instruction and the interactive notebooks will dovetail nicely with the NGSS.

Thank you for reading.  I would be interested in hearing your comments.

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