A high-profile, learning sciences project known as Advancing Coherent and Equitable Systems of Science Education (ACESSE) could be the impetus behind driving national change about how K-12 students learn science.

Funded by the National Science Foundation, the project brings together 13 member states, eight of which have adopted Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) and five that have not. Pennsylvania has yet to adopt those standards but ACESSE will examine systems of science education at the state level.

“The elements of bridging research and practices in support of ambitious and equitable science instruction and assessment and building coherence and capacity across state systems of education are both powerful and innovative,” said Carla Zembal-Saul, professor of science education who holds the Kahn endowed professorship in STEM education in the College of Education at Penn State.

“We’re going to look at the coherence and infrastructure for implementing and the research-based framework that underlies the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS),” said Zembal-Saul.

Pennsylvania’s ACESSE team consists of Zembal-Saul; Rick Duschl, the Kenneth B. Waterbury chaired professor in secondary education in the College; and Judd Pittman, special consultant to Pennsylvania State Secretary of Education Pedro Rivera.

ACESSE PA will examine the degree to which there is alignment of curriculum, instruction and assessment with the policies and practices in Pennsylvania science standards, or horizontal coherence.

It also will explore the extent to which there exists shared understandings and consensus practices statewide in three-dimensional science learning goals and the purposes and uses of formative assessment, or vertical coherence.

The Next Generation Science Standards, Zembal-Saul said, are based on a framework that was published first and based on a number of research syntheses. “One of the most important ones is a document from the National Research Council called ‘Taking Science to School,’ and Rick (Duschl) was one of the authors on that,” Zembal-Saul said.

“Decades of research provide strong support for a new vision for science learning that is ambitious and equitable. Transforming the vision into practice requires the integration of crosscutting concepts in science (cause and effect, systems and modeling, and patterns); scientific discourse and practices (arguing from evidence, constructing and interrogating scientific explanations); and what is traditionally known as the content of science (disciplinary core ideas),” she said.


Click here to read the full story in Penn State News (Oct. 2, 2017)

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