Next Generation Science Standards Released


Earlier this month, 20 states were selected to lead the effort to improve science education for all students by developing the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). These states are Arizona, California, Georgia, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Tennessee, Vermont, Washington and West Virginia.

The new K–12 science standards will be rich in both content and practice to provide all students a challenging science education. The new standards will be arranged in a coherent manner across grades so students and educators can see the clear progression of the content, practices, and concepts that cut across the K-12 spectrum.

The NGSS are being developed in a two-step process in partnership with the National Research Council (NRC), the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA), the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) and Achieve. The first step was the development of the Framework for K-12 Science Education, led by the NRC, which identified the broad ideas and practices in natural sciences and engineering that all students should be familiar with by the time they graduate from high school.

The second step is drafting standards true to the Framework. Working with the lead states, a writing team comprised of science educators and experts from around the country have begun the process of drafting the Next Generation Science Standards. The final standards will be released by the end of 2012, with two public review and feedback periods scheduled for the winter and spring of 2012.

The need for next generation science standards is both real and urgent: Over the past 15 years, students' achievement in science has remained stagnant with no more than 30% of students meeting the proficiency mark on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) and about the same percentage of students meeting the "below basic" level. Internationally, between 2000 and 2006, the number of countries scoring higher than the U.S. on the PISA science assessment rose from 6 to 12. Economically, over the past 10 years, growth in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) jobs was three times greater than that of non-STEM jobs, and STEM jobs are expected to continue to grow at a faster rate than other jobs in the coming decade.

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