Next Steps for the Next Generation Science Standards

In a commentary in Education Week, Arthur H. Camins explores the next steps for the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) and what it will take for success as states and districts begin to adopt them. Camins notes that the NGSS have avoided some of the major problems experienced by the Common Core Sate Standards because the NGSS development process has been open and transparent, state adoption has been voluntary and not leveraged by federal funds, and that the guiding premises of A Framework for K-12 Education–the foundation of the NGSS–were already widely embraced. Moving forward, he identifies five state actions that will support success:

  • First, states should resist the temptation to tinker with the standards.
  • Second, states should interpret NGSS performance standards as they were intended—examples of what integration of the three framework strands and incorporation of engineering might look like in practice.
  • Third, states that adopt the standards must declare a moratorium on high-stakes science testing.
  • Fourth, from an accountability perspective, it is important to recognize two characteristics of the new science standards. They represent a new learning sequence in which understanding builds over a child’s entire K-12 educational experience. Therefore, quick achievement of its expectations for students at all grade levels is unrealistic. In addition, some of the standards stretch current ideas about concepts students are able to master at particular grade levels. These aspirational expectations require teachers to adopt a practical, action-oriented research perspective.
  • Fifth, federal, state, and district policymakers should give first priority to ensuring equity and adequacy of resources and long-term sustained professional development.

Click here to read the article in Education Week (July 22, 2014)

 

New Jersey Adopts Next Generation Science Standards

Congratulations, New Jersey! Voting to adopt the Next Generation Science Standards.

“New Jersey historically has adopted curriculum standards that establish a high bar for student learning. Today’s re-adoption of six content areas and the adoption of the Next Generation Science Standards maintain the state’s commitment to providing schools with curriculum frameworks that convey higher-level skills and advanced learning,” said State Board President Mark W. Biedron. “The Next Generation Science Standards will enable schools to take science to the next level and to challenge and inspire students to embrace scientific inquiry both in and out of the classroom.”

To read the full press release, click here.

 

N.J. support for Next Generation Science Standards in education is critical

A guest opinion piece in the Times of Trenton by educators from three NJ colleges call on New Jersey’s education community to support the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) because of its power to best prepare students for the 21st century. The piece examines the important changes promoted in the standards based on what we now know about teaching and learning science and the needs of the 21st century.

“It is critical for New Jersey’s education community to join together in support of the NGSS and that we all do our part to prepare our students for the realities of the 21th century.”

Click here to read the full article. (July 7, 2014)

 

 

Wyoming schools probably free to use NGSS

According to the Casper Star-Tribune, local school districts in Wyoming probably can use the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), despite a ban prohibiting the Wyoming Dept. of Education and state Board of Education from using funds to review or adopt the standards.

“The budget footnote prohibiting the Wyoming Department of Education and state Board of Education from spending money to review or adopt the Next Generation Science Standards does not apply to the budgets school districts use to buy educational materials like textbooks, said Mary Kay Hill, chief of staff to Gov. Matt Mead.”

Click here to read the article as it appears in the Billings Gazette

 

 

Common Core backlash won’t stop new science standards

A number of school districts in Wisconsin are not waiting for  state lawmakers to make a decision on state science standards and are beginning to use the Next Generation Science Standards. Some school districts in Green Bay are using the new standards to develop new curriculum, saying “instructors can’t teach today’s students using guidelines written more than a decade ago.” The current Wisconsin science standards were adopted in 1998.

“The state Department of Public Instruction had planned to move forward with Next Generation, but held off as backlash grew against Common Core State Standards — which Wisconsin adopted in 2010.”

Click here to read the article in the Green Bay Press Gazette.

Wyoming Science and Math Educators Issue Position Statement Supporting NGSS

A group of 46 science and math educators at the University of Wyoming recently issued a position statement urging the state board of education to reconsider its position on the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). The statement, “Why the Critics of the Next Generation Science Standards are Wrong,” is intended to help the board fully understand the research upon which the NGSS is based. The statement explores in depth the questions “What is science?” “What is the nature of science literacy?” and “How do students learn science?”

According to the statement, “Those of us who are involved in training teachers or providing professional development have already revised our programs to align with the NGSS and we have no intention of going back to standards that we know to be out of date and inferior. The NGSS provide the most research-based road map that exists for teachers, administrators and those of us in higher education to make these changes. The actions of the legislature and Governor Mead have denied teachers and students access to the most powerful tool available to make this happen. As a result, our students will not be as well prepared for college or the world of work as students from states who have implemented NGSS.”

Click here to read the position statement

Click here to read an article in the Wyoming Star Tribune

 

 

Kentucky Schools in Early Stages of NGSS Implementation

TV station WDRB in Louisville, KY, explores the work of science teachers in Jefferson County Public Schools who are in the early stages of implementing the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). According to middle school teacher Amy Strite, teachers will be “much more explicit in making connections to previous learning — connections to these cross-cutting concepts that hopefully will let students see science learning as much more connected.”

CindysArticle

Click here to view the segment.

In coal country, Gillette schools test new science standards

In the middle of a political battle over science standards in Wyoming, one school district is training teachers in the types of higher-level thinking outlined by the Next Generation Science Standards. According to an article in Wyoming’s Star Tribune, “about 30 teachers in grades three through six built a new science curriculum using the Next Generation Science Standards as part of the three-year grant, which was funded by the U.S. Department of Education and piloted in select elementary school classrooms across Campbell County this year.”

“Students love it, said David Petersen, a sixth grade teacher at Hillcrest Elementary School in Gillette.”

Click here to read the full story in the Start Tribune (May 27, 2014)

State Legislators Attempt to Halt Adoption of the NGSS

Recent news articles highlight political attempts to derail new science standards because of science content, such as climate change. In March, Wyoming’s legislature passed a bill preventing the Department of Education from spending money to review or adopt the NGSS despite a unanimous recommendation of the state’s standards revision committee (made up of Wyoming educators) to adopt the standards. NSTA sent the Department of Education a letter encouraging them to adopt the standards.

  • Click here to read The New York Times article: “Science Standards Divide a State Built on Coal and Oil” (May 18, 2014)
  • Click here to read an article in the Sheridan Press: “Board of Ed. continues review of Next Generation Science Standards” (April 30, 2014)
  • Click here to read NSTA’s letter to the Wyoming State Board of Education.

Last week in Ohio, a key piece of legislation (HB 487) which would prohibit the state from adopting science and social studies standards not developed in Ohio was approved by a Senate committee. NSTA is encouraging Ohio supporters of science to speak up and reject this language.

  • Click here to read an article on Cleveland.com: “Legislation positions Ohio to dial back support for Common Core state standards” (May 20, 2014)
  • Click here to read NSTA’s letter to Ohio science educators.

And in Oklahoma, a joint resolution in the House  which would reject the state department of education’s rules implementing Oklahoma’s new science standards, was passed by the Oklahoma House of Representatives on a 55-31 vote on May 21, 2014. The effort was stymied on May 23 when the Oklahoma legislature adjourned without action.

  • Click here to read an article in the Tulsa World (May 22, 2014)
  • Click here to read an update by the National Center for Science Education (May 23, 2014)

Other interesting reads:

  • Huffington Post article by Bill Chameides:States of Denial: We Don’t Need No Climate Education” (May 21, 2014)
  • Education Week blog by Liana Heitin:”Pushback’ to the Common Science Standards: Real or Overblown?”  (May 20, 2014)

NSTA Urges Ohio Educators to Contact State Legislators to Support NGSS; Say “No” to HB 487

On May 20, a key piece of legislation (HB 487) which would prohibit the state from adopting science and social studies standards not developed in Ohio was approved by a Senate committee.   HB 487 “blocks future adoption of nationally-developed standards in subjects such as science and social studies by preventing state officials from entering into any agreement that would require the state to hand over control of the development, adoption or revision of academic standards.” This would prohibit adoption of the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) because the standards were developed by a wide range of stakeholders in 26 states, including Ohio.

This legislation is expected to be voted on by the full Ohio Senate shortly. We need you to take action immediately and support the Next Generation Science Standards. Please do one or all of the following today:

  • Contact your Ohio Legislators and the Governor:  Call or email your state senators and representatives today and let them know the facts about the NGSS. Tell them not to support HB487.
  •  Post on Twitter: Following are some suggested tweets you can post. A list of twitter handles is below.

o High quality #science standards support economic development and college/career readiness in Ohio. Support #NGSS.
o For states, by states. #NGSS supports #STEM innovation in Ohio.
o Science teachers in Ohio support the #NGSS! No to HB487!

  •  Activate your networks:  Pass this email on to your networks – business and community leaders, teachers, administrators, higher education professionals, and parents – and ask them to act now.
  • After you contact your legislator and post on social media, write a letter to the editor or an Op-Ed:  Draft a brief piece for Ohio news outlets – newspapers, blogs – that showcases your support for the NGSS and why these standards are necessary for Ohio.  Consider writing a letter to the editor of the Columbus Dispatch.

Get background about the NGSS, fast facts, and reasons why we need NGSS below.

Please act now. Legislators should not be making critical decisions without input from educators, parents, students, business leaders and the higher education and research community.  The NGSS were developed by Buckeyes and would improve science education in Ohio.

Read more at Cleveland.com

Twitter Handles:

@SenCliffHite Cliff Hite
@Bill_Beagle William Beagle
@peggylehner Peggy Lehner
@ehk009 Eric Kearney
@GayleManningOH Gayle Manning
@Troy_Balderson Troy Balderson
@ninaturner Nina Turner
@Kevin_BaconOH Kevin Bacon
@sjones524 Shannon Jones
@CincySeitz Bill Seitz
@StateSenKearney Eric Kearney
@ChrisWidenerOH Chris Widener
@Sen_Edna_Brown Edna Brown
@KeithFaber Keith Faber
@jwuecker Joe Uecker
@SenatorTavares Charleta Tavares
@JimHughesOH Jim Hughes
@bobforohio Bob Peterson
@JohnEklundOH John Eklund
@LarryObhof Larry Obhof
@michaelskindell Michael Skindell
@TomPattonOH Tom Patton
@BurkeForOhio Dave Burke
@FrankLaRose Frank LaRose
@SenLouGentile Lou Gentile
@TimSchaffer Tim Schaffer
@senatorcapri Capri Cafaro
@JoeSchiavoni Joe Schiavoni

 

THE FACTS ABOUT THE NGSS

  • The Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) are a new set of K-12 science standards developed by states, for states. The NGSS identify science and engineering practices and content that all K-12 students should master in order to be prepared for success in college and 21st-century careers.
  • It has been more than 15 years since the National Research Council (NRC) and the American Association for Advancement in Science produced their reports from which most state science standards are based. Since that time, major advances in science and our understanding of how students learn science have taken place and need to be reflected in state standards.
  • The NGSS are based on the NRC’s ‘A Framework on K-12 Science Education,’ released in July 2011. The Framework provides a sound, evidence-based foundation for science standards drawing on current scientific research—including research on the ways today’s students learn science effectively—and identifies the science ALL K-12 students should know.
  • The NGSS are built upon a vision for quality science education for ALL students not just a select few.
  • The NGSS are benchmarked against countries whose students perform well in science and engineering fields including: Finland, South Korea, China, Canada, England, Hungary, Ireland, Japan and Singapore.
  • The NGSS are NOT curricula.  Standards articulate and formalize what students need to know at each grade level – districts, schools and teachers will determine how the information is taught (the curriculum).
  • The NGSS were developed, reviewed and validated by a team from Ohio.

 

SOME RATIONALE FOR THE NGSS

  • Issues related to science and engineering are all around us in our daily lives. There is no end to the solutions and innovations human beings can develop to make the world a better place through scientific and engineering knowledge and discovery.
  • Global issues like medical research, nutrition, waste disposal, infrastructure development, telecommunications, and cyber-security all require science-based solutions and a basic knowledge of scientific principles. Today’s students need to be prepared to address these challenges.
  • Students will face unprecedented competition in the workforce not only within their home states, but also globally.
  • By 2015, nearly 60% of the new jobs being created will require skills only mastered by 20% of the population, according to a recent report from the American Society for Training and Development.[1]
  • According to the same report, job skills in STEM-science, technology, engineering and math-are among the skills experiencing the greatest increase in demand. In 1991, fewer than 50% of U.S. jobs required skilled workers. But by 2015, 76% of all newly created U.S. jobs will require highly skilled workers, with some proficiency in STEM.
  • Of course, science education is about more than building a strong future workforce; it affords students the means to gain resiliency, critical thinking skills and the knowledge they need to become capable, fulfilled adults in a technology-driven world.

 

BACKGROUND

The Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) were developed by states, for states and 26 states voluntarily joined the process to develop the standards. The science supervisors in these 26 states’ education agencies worked with 41 writers to develop the standards and incorporate feedback from broad-based committees and the public. These committees consisted of critical stakeholders in education, science, business and industry, as well as the general public including, in some cases, parents and students. The draft standards received comments from over 10,000 individuals during each of two public review periods, including those in lead state review teams, school and school district discussion groups, and scientific societies. The writers then used this feedback to make substantial revisions. The final standards were released in April 2013. As of May 2014, 11 states and the District of Columbia have adopted: California, Delaware, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, Vermont, Rhode Island, Washington, Oregon, Nevada and Illinois.

 

 

[1]  “Bridging the Skills Gap,” American Society for Training and Development (2010).http://www.astd.org/%20About/~/media/Files/About%20ASTD/Public%20Policy/%20BridgingtheSkillsGap2010.pdf