The Next Generation Science Standards is currently a hot topic in K-12 education with a number of states who are debating adopting or have already done so. This month the LifeSciTRC invited Community Member Georgia Everett, who is a high school and undergraduate educator with hands-on NGSS experience, to explain these standards to our K-12 Educator Community.
What are the Next Generation Science Standards?
The Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) are built off of the Framework for K-12 Science Education which was developed by the National Research Council. The standards progress students on topics in Life Science, Earth Science, Physical Science and Engineering & Technology throughout elementary, middle and high school. They involve 7 conceptual shifts that include making connections to real world and preparing students for college, career, and citizenship while also making connections to Common Core State Standards in Math and ELA. They focus on a progression of learning while putting a spotlight on the science practices that have fallen by the wayside over the years.
What are the Goals of the Next Generation Science Standards?
A major goal of the NGSS is to approach science learning from three dimensions; Disciplinary Core Ideas (focused on life science, physical science, earth & space science, and engineering & technology), Science & Engineering Practices, and Crosscutting Concepts (focuses on things that can be seen across all disciplines not just science as well as across grade bands). By effectively using these three dimensions, students work towards mastery of performance expectations which are the standards. Each performance expectation includes clarification as well as assessment boundaries to keep consistency when interpreting what is and is not being inferred in the standard.
Who is Using the Next Generation Science Standards?
Twelve states have already agreed to adopt the NGSS, and are planning on slowly working towards incorporating the standards into their state curriculum. (It is important that I note: NGSS are not curriculum. They are the final goal and outcome, but do not tell how to get there.) Achieve has encouraged states to take their time when deciding if and when to adopt. They do not want to see the same issues that were faced with the Common Core State Standards when they were released. They also want to have teachers, administrators, and state leaders to be educated on how to properly work with and use the NGSS.
Where Can I Find More Information about the Next Generation Science Standards?
If you would like to find out more about how to read and get familiar with the NGSS there are a variety of tools out there. The Concord Consortium has a website that helps teachers create a path through NGSS (by jesse). For you apple users, there is an NGSS app that allows you to search the standards using the Disciplinary Core Ideas, Topics, Concept Progression, or Domains. You can also find other resources related to NGSS in the LifeSciTRC.
Any Additional Thoughts on the Next Generation Science Standards?
With the amount of time and effort that teachers across the nation (including myself) have put into reading, revising, and working on resources for NGSS, I hope that they are a huge success! When properly utilized the Next Generation Science Standards can help us strengthen the education of all our future scientists, especially the next generation of physiologists.
Georgia Everett has taught various levels of life science classes in Indiana rural schools for the last 12 years at the secondary level. For the last 8 years, she has also been an adjunct faculty member with Ivy Tech Community college teaching Anatomy & Physiology. Georgia has served on a review team for the Next Generation Science Standards and helped deliver professional development to other teachers about the NGSS. She has also presented at NSTA about teaching inquiry and statistical analysis in the science classroom.