FAQs about the Next Generation Science Standards
At the recent National Science Teacher’s Association (NSTA) conference in Indianapolis, I had the opportunity to hear from some of the writers of the Framework for K-12 Science Education, as well as several people involved in the writing of the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS).
Who is writing the standards and when will they be written? While answers for many major questions about the standards will have to wait until the first public draft comes out in the next month or so, here are answers to some frequently asked questions I heard at the conference for anyone wanting an overview of the standards and framework.
Achieve, Inc. is coordinating a group of 26 lead states in writing the standards. Two public drafts will be released. The first is expected to be released in late April or early May (several months behind the initial schedule), the second in the fall, and final standards are expected to be released for consideration for adoption next winter (2012-2013).
Why are the Next Generation Science Standards important?
Up until now, no science standards have been intended for multiple states to adopt. In addition, the quality of state science standards is often poor. The 26 lead states, in which close to 60% of K–12 students in the U.S. attend school, have signed on to “seriously consider” adopting the NGSS standards, and nearly all states are working with Achieve, Inc. to explore implementation and adoption of the standards. It’s likely that the majority of students in the U.S. will be taught and assessed based on the content of these standards, beginning as soon as fall 2013.
What’s the difference between these standards and the Framework for K–12 Science Education?
The framework was written as a project by the National Research Council to be a foundational document. Its purpose was to develop a consensus on the most important things all students need to know and understand about science. It is not specific enough to develop strong curriculum or assessments from. The NGSS will be based on this framework and will lay out specific performance expectations for assessment of students.
What’s the difference between these standards and the Common Core?
The standards are not part of the Common Core; although the NGSS are being written with the Common Core English language arts and math standards in mind, they are being developed through a somewhat different process. The standards are based on a framework document, not on the states’ existing experience with collaborating on standards and prior consensus on content. There is currently no federal involvement in the NGSS. There also are no assessments being created at this time; the PARCC and Smarter Balanced consortia are currently producing only English language arts and math assessments.
Is [insert product, service, or assessment here] aligned to the NGSS or Framework?
No curriculum or assessments are currently “aligned” to the NGSS, because the standards do not yet exist in final form. In my opinion, claiming “alignment” to the Framework is misleading, because it is not a standards document.
How will the standards be organized?
The standards will be grade-by-grade for K–5. Standards for 6–8 and 9–12 will be in grade bands, with guidance on suggested learning progressions.
What will the draft standards look like?
The NGSS will include a series of broad standards, each listing several performance expectations. Every performance expectation will integrate the three dimensions of the Framework (Science and Engineering Practices, Disciplinary Core Ideas, and Crosscutting Concepts). The standards will make connections to Common Core math and English language arts standards explicit, as well as list connections to other NGSS standards at the same grade level and related standards in earlier and later grade levels.
What questions or concerns do you have about the Next Generation Science Standards? How important do you think they are for the future of science education? Let us know in the comments section below.
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