The first independent review to weigh whether new science curriculum series are truly aligned to a set of national standards was issued this morning—and mostly, the materials fell well short of expectations.
Four of the series—Discovery’s Science Techbook, Carolina Biological Supply Company’s Science and Technology Concepts, and two versions of Teachers’ Curriculum Institute’s Bring Science Alive!—were deemed insufficiently aligned to the Next Generation Science Standards. One series, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt’s Science Dimensions, was considered partially aligned. Only one series, Amplify’s Amplify Science, got top marks for alignment, coherence, and usability, according to the nonprofit and curriculum group EdReports, which conducted the reviews.
Click here to read the full article by Ed Week‘s Stephen Sawchuck as he answers the follow questions:
- Who are these folks, and how did they conduct these reviews?
- What’s in these standards?
- Where did EdReports think these materials fell short?
- What do the publishers say about these findings?
- Where do these findings fit in with other science reviews?
And, stay tuned for more as he explores what the science education field thinks of these results. Readers can leave a comment, or email him directly at email@example.com.
An emerging science concept called phenomena-based learning—backed by the NGSS—taps into students’ natural desire to make sense of their world.
This approach encourages students to observe natural phenomena, such as a rising tide or a glass shattered by sound. They can then investigate why it occurs.
Students also learn that the approach mirrors how actual scientists find answers through reasoning and inquiry.
“I like to think of phenomena as breadcrumbs that teachers are going to use to guide students along learning paths,” says Ted Willard, assistant director for science standards for the National Science Teachers Association.
Unlike in a traditional teacher-led lesson, students in NGSS phenomena-based learning lead by asking questions.
They also collaborate, discover connections, design models, and ultimately, make sense of what they observe.
“This inquiry-based approach avoids ‘intellectual bulimia’ in which students just learn words to spit back out on a test,” says Willard.
“By teaching them the reasoning process, they get a deeper understanding of science concepts.”
Click here to read the full story in District Administration magazine (February 14, 2019)
A nonprofit working on open-source curriculum that aligns with state standards is the latest development in the Carnegie Corporation of New York’s 10-year effort to improve science education in the United States. OpenSciEd, the new nonprofit, and the decade-long journey that led to its founding lend insight into how one of the oldest foundations in the country sees its role and future within an increasingly crowded education philanthropy landscape.
The nonprofit has been tasked with creating curriculum to align with the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), which Carnegie was instrumental in developing. So far, Carnegie has put $4 million into the organization through the National Center for Civic Innovation at the Fund for the City of New York.
“The quality of the curriculum a teacher is working with makes a difference,” said Jim Short, program director of Carnegie’s Leadership and Teaching to Advance Learning portfolio.
“We know that the quality of teacher matters. We know that having a good principal, instructional leader in the school to support the teacher matters,” said Short. “But I think there’s enough data now showing that the quality of the instructional materials—the curriculum the teacher is working with—is the third thing that equally matters.”
Developing a framework for science education and overhauling outdated state standards to reflect the framework were the first steps to improving how science was taught in classrooms. The result was the Next Generation Science Standards, released back in 2013. Now, about two-thirds of students attend school in states that have adopted the NGSS or standards that closely resemble them.
Click here to read the full story by Inside Philanthropy. (February 20, 2019)
In March California students will start to be tested on the state’s new science standards for the first time, but with little instruction in the subject in elementary school and few aligned textbooks they aren’t likely to be ready.
The state had to develop the new test aligned to the Next Generation Science Standards, adopted in 2013, to replace the old standards put in place in 1998. The new standards emphasis critical thinking over rote memorization, more hands-on science projects and require students to investigate, collect and use data, and give evidence-based explanations for what they discover.
Although students will begin taking the California Science Test in March, most school districts have yet to approve textbooks or materials aligned to the new standards adopted six years ago by the State Board of Education. Still, federal law is requiring California to begin testing this year.
Click here to read the full article in Ed Source (February 18, 2019)
In the February 20 issue of Education Dive, writer Lauren Barack explores the use of phenomena to support science understanding of natural “mysteries.”
Turning interest into understanding is a critical component of engaging students in their educations. Phenomena-based learning fits into this mission by having students observe something in nature and delve into the processes behind it for better understanding.
In line with the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), a phenomena-based approach changes the focus of science education so students aren’t passively “learning about a topic” but rather “figuring out why or how something happens.” The NGSS details in a three-page primer, designed for educators, how to weave phenomena-based learning into their own classrooms.
This approach takes advantage of students’ innate curiosity, which can then fuel further interests in science and math — and perhaps even stretch to other subjects including history and literature.
Click here to read the full article in Education Dive (February 20, 2019)
It was the type of moment every educator lives for. As I walked around the room, the genuine fascination and the sparking of ideas were almost palpable. My pupils were in the thick of extracting DNA from a strawberry, and I heard one say that her mind was being blown by the day’s activity. As a professor of engineering, I always thrill to the sounds of my students’ excitement over the concepts we’re learning in class — but this particular satisfaction ran deeper.
After all, the subjects of my instruction that day were not undergraduates or any younger; they were all science teachers themselves. The techniques and activities we were teaching to the group soon could be igniting similar excitement in the minds of hundreds of middle-schoolers.
The Next Generation Science Standards were published in 2013 after a multi-state effort to define the skills K-12 students need to master before graduating so they can thrive in today’s in-demand jobs in science, technology, engineering and math (which together comprise STEM).
In Louisiana, where I live and teach, this is the first school year in which K-12 students will be tested according to our state’s new science standards (largely modeled on the NGSS). This represents Louisiana’s first update to the standards in 20 years, and necessitates some major changes to science classrooms. Rather than encouraging students to memorize a host of facts, the new standards prioritize firsthand data-gathering, critical thinking, investigation and collaboration. As science classrooms shift to mimic something more like mini-laboratories, science teachers need to do some shifting of their own.
The new standards are, without a doubt, a significant improvement upon those they replace. But it’s also true that they present a real problem for many of the teachers expected to teach to them: They demand a transformation in classroom culture, require the purchase of new classroom materials and the development of new lesson plans, and ask teachers to sharply revise how they conceive of their own roles in the classroom. What’s more, a significant proportion of teachers have been left to navigate this choppy transition with minimal support, leaving many of them feeling frustrated and overwhelmed.
There’s one message we’ve received loud and clear since we began inviting teachers to campus for our STEM workshops: This type of professional development should be considered an expected — and therefore compensated — part of an educator’s job.
Click here to read the full story in The Hill (January 19, 2019)
Soon after students settled into their seats, Jeff Remington directed them to begin downloading an application on their school-issued iPads that would teach them about the language – called coding – that tells computers what to do.
Then he flipped on an 8-minute video explaining why coding is something the Palmyra Middle School students should know: Tech companies anticipate the need for a million more coders over the next decade.
Remington interrupted the video to make sure students took note of the playground-like atmosphere that tech companies, like the one in the video, offer in hopes that playing video games and riding scooters down hallways will entice prospective employees.
“You don’t even need a college degree for some of these jobs. You saw the life that you lead by working for these companies,” Remington told the class.
“This is where we got to be moving.”
Remington and other educators want students across Pennsylvania to see science as a way to fulfill their dreams. Educators said the state needs to adopt a new set of science standards that helps public school students recognize that science is part of everyday life.
Specifically, educators like Remington are calling on the state to adopt the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) or a state-developed set of learning expectations adapted to them. They say the new standards would deliver science education more consistently and effectively across Pennsylvania’s schools.
Click here to read the full story in PA Penn Live (January 14, 2019)
NSTA Note: Jeff Remington is a 2017 NSTA STEM Teacher Ambassador. Click here to learn more about Jeff and the other Ambassadors.
100Kin10 released its annual Trends Report, a synthesis of thousands of data points that predict trends and “look-aheads” that will define STEM and education in 2019. Second on the list was the hunger by many teacher for more high-quality NGSS resources.
“In the nearly 20 states where the Next Generation Science Standards have been adopted, teachers and districts are facing the formidable task of bringing the new and more demanding standards to life. NGSS is meant to transform science education, but teachers tell us the transformation is slow in coming. 100Kin10’s Teacher Forum members continuously share frustrations with the lack of NGSS-aligned resources. Teachers don’t know where to look to find high-quality materials or examples of high-quality NGSS-aligned teaching. Fortunately, a number of 100Kin10 partners are working to fill this gap.
Click here to read the article featured in Forbes.
The Utah Board of Education voted to unveil science classroom guidelines for a 90-day public review after months of debate among members who disagreed over whether the new standards — based largely on what’s accepted nationwide — go too far in talking about human impact on the climate, rely “too much on theory and not fact,” or promote too secular a view of the world.
Utah science educators largely drove the board to make the latest updates, pleading to members for more than a year, saying that their classroom learning goals were outdated and sometimes based on since-disproven material.
“It didn’t really prepare kids for what science is, to discover and learn,” said Ricky Scott, a science specialist with the Utah Office of Education. “We really want to build thinkers and students who can reason through what’s happening in the world today.”
The writing committee that drafted the standards, made up of more than 80 teachers in every grade level and university professors from around the state, also included a large focus on engineering for the first time in elementary and high schools.
The instructional guidelines for all grades were drafted by looking at other states and the Next Generation of Science Standards, a series of education benchmarks developed by a consortium of national experts. The writing committee spent March to late October pulling together the new standards for Utah.
The board voted Thursday without much debate to release the draft guidelines to move the process forward — but still with time to revise — with the 90-day review period running through April 11. There will be six public hearings starting in January and going through March where parents and teachers can talk about changes they’d like to see, as well. They can also express any concerns in a survey at www.surveymonkey.com/r/UTSEEd90DayReview.
Click here to read the full story in The Salt Lake Tribune (January 11, 2019)