Math and literature teachers are working to adopt the Common Core State Standards into their curricula; now, K-12 science teachers across 26 states will begin to adopt new science standards into their lesson plans as well. The long-anticipated and state-led Next Generation Science Standards, or NGSS, focus heavily on the practice of science and crosscutting skills and concepts.
Funded by New York’s Carnegie Corporation and organized by nonprofit education organization Achieve, twenty-six states worked for two years to develop these standards. Their goal is that other states will follow suit and implement the standards as well. The new NGSS focus heavily on real-world application, encouraging students to experiment and think critically about science and engineering. Instead of keeping outdated memorization-heavy learning methods in their
curricula, educators will provide students an organizational schema for interdisciplinary concepts across various areas of science in order to help students take a scientific view of the world.
“The NGSS aim to prepare students to be better decision makers about scientific and technical issues and to apply science to their daily lives,” said Matt Krehbiel, Science Education Program Consultant of Kansas in NGSS’s press release. “By blending core science knowledge with scientific practices, students are engaged in a more relevant context that deepens their understanding and helps them to build what they need to move forward with their education -whether that’s moving on to a four-year college or moving into post-secondary training.”
The NGSS are broken down into three “dimensions,” as outlined on their website. The first dimension emphasizes the practice of investigation and inquiry, showing students the relevance of science and engineering through experiments and real-world applications. The second dimension focuses on crosscutting concepts, which, while challenging for educators to incorporate, will provide a framework for helping students understand scientific concepts across a variety of disciplines. The third dimension outlines disciplinary core ideas, or key concepts that should fit multiple criteria, which include: having a broad importance in one or more disciplines, are key to understanding complex ideas, relate to students’ life experience, and are teachable and learnable across several grade levels.
The NGSS were developed to help students gain a deeper understanding of science and engineering to not only better prepare them for college but for the workforce as well:
“In Michigan, our conversation about education always includes workforce training. Whenever we adopt a new set of standards we make sure to promote the opportunities the standards afford, not just in terms of college readiness, but in terms of workforce readiness. That’s particularly relevant with the NGSS,” said Susan Codere, Project Coordinator for the NGSS in Michigan.
NPR’s MindShift reports that the new standards will address climate change as well, which could prove controversial in a political sense. However, leaders of the new curriculum don’t see this as an issue. “Climate change is not a political issue and it’s not a debate,” Mario Molina, deputy director for the Alliance for Climate Education, told NPR. “It’s science, strongly researched and thoroughly vetted science. So our hope is that teachers will not see this as political debate.”
Science teachers, students,
and administrators: what’s your opinion on the new standards? Sound off in the comments below, or share your impressions with us on Twitter to @Technapex or @ce_doyle.