Depth, Connections, and “Doing” Science Focus of New Standards


Last week, the release of the draft Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) topped the ASCD SmartBrief most-clicked list. Standards writers say the NGSS focus on essential content studied through the processes of scientific inquiry and engineering design and that these standards represent a shift to fewer, deeper standards that are clearly aligned across grade levels and disciplines and focus on “doing” science.

Based on the framework released by the National Research Council last summer, the new, internationally benchmarked standards are organized into four disciplinary domains—physical science, life science, earth-space science, and engineering. Education Week explains how the standards are written to clearly show connections within the discipline, and to Common Core Math and English/Language Arts standards:

Each standard in the draft is organized into a table for the given topic at each grade level or grade range. The table has three main sections: performance expectations, “foundation” boxes, and “connection” boxes that relate the core idea to other science standards, as well as to the common-core standards in English and math.

The foundation boxes expand upon and explain the performance expectations in relation to three dimensions: science and engineering practices, disciplinary core ideas, and cross-cutting concept statements.

Like the Common Core State Standards Initiative, the NGSS effort is a state-led process, with 26 states participating in standards development. All states will be able to choose whether to adopt these standards, and if they do—the timeline for implementation. How evolution and climate change are handled in these standards could be sticking points for state adoption; Texas and Virginia have already signaled they will not adopt the NGSS.

The public has until June 1 to comment on this initial draft; a second draft will be up for review in the fall, and the final version of the standards is expected to be available in 2013.

This video includes some of the individuals involved in drafting the NGSS, and why they think the new science standards are necessary and beneficial. Head to the NGSS site for more specifics on how and why these standards were developed.