New Standards for a New Generation
In April 2013, the science education community welcomed Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). The voluntary standards describe important scientific ideas and practices that all students should learn by the time they leave the 12th grade. The standards integrate three important dimensions—science and engineering practices, disciplinary core ideas, and crosscutting concepts—effectively build science concepts from kindergarten through 12th grade, and integrate important concepts of engineering. The Next Generation Science Standards establish learning goals in science that will give all students the skills and knowledge they need to be informed citizens, college ready, and prepared for careers.
A group of 26 lead states, with a writing team of 41 experts in science education, developed the NGSS through a broad collaborative process that included many teachers and stakeholders in science and science education. Achieve Inc., AAAS, the National Research Council (NRC), and the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) partnered to support this effort. Throughout the process, numerous drafts were produced and provided to critical stakeholders and teams for review and input, and two public comment periods were held to get additional feedback. The first public comment period was in Spring 2012 and the second in Winter 2013. Visit the official NGSS page to see the development process.
The NGSS are based on the NRC Framework for K–12 Science Education. The standards consist of performance expectations, foundation boxes, and connection boxes. (See “Inside the NGSS Box” for a breakdown of the standards’ architecture.) The performance expectations in NGSS are grouped together in two different arrangements: (1) According to topics that the writers used when writing the performance expectations and (2) according to disciplinary core ideas from the Framework. States have the option of using either arrangement when they adopt the standards, or they may choose to develop their own arrangement.
As of December 2014, 13 states and the District of Columbia have adopted the NGSS. They are RI, KY, KS, MD, VT, CA, DE, WA, DC, NV, OR, IL, NJ, and WV.
A Framework for K–12 Science Education
The NGSS is based on A Framework for K–12 Science Education, released by the National Research Council in 2011 (viewable online at www.nap.edu). The Framework describes the major practices, crosscutting concepts, and disciplinary core ideas that all students should be familiar with by the end of high school, and how these practices, concepts, and ideas should be developed across the grade levels. Purchase the Framework from the NSTA Science Store (NSTA member discounts available).
NSTA Supports the Implementation of the NGSS
NSTA supports the Next Generation Science Standards as an effective and research-based way to transform science education, to prepare all students for college and career readiness, and to foster a new generation of evidence-based consumers of science.
NSTA encourages states to adopt the standards and commit the resources and support structures needed to effectively implement the standards. NSTA is committed to supporting science educators, leaders, and states to help them prepare for NGSS implementation.
How to Talk to Parents About the NGSS
Because the Next Generation Science Standards mark a significant shift in how science is both taught and learned, parents may be curious as to what their children’s classrooms will look like. Some parents may even think the NGSS are part of the Common Core. To help teachers and principals educate parents and dispel misconceptions, NSTA has developed a short parent Q and A. This tool explains what standards are in general and why the NGSS in particular are so critical for developing college and career readiness in the sciences. It also describes classroom changes parents may see and distinguishes the NGSS from the Common Core.
A vibrant conversation is always taking place on NSTA community networks. Discuss with colleagues, stay informed, and get answers on the NGSS listserv (members only), NGSS discussion board, NSTA blog, and Facebook.