On June 11, the Arkansas State Board of Education voted unanimously to adopt the Arkansas K-12 Science Standards for Grade K-4 and 5-8. The standards are based on the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) with additional Arkansas-specific clarification statements and assessment boundaries, grade-specific learning progressions, and overviews of the content for each grade to assist teachers in implementation. Arkansas was one of 26 states that led the development of the NGSS.
The K-4 science standards will be implemented in the 2016-17 school year and standards for grades 5-8 in 2017-18. Work on high school standards is underway with a plan to present them to the State Board of Education in the spring of 2016. The current Arkansas Science Curriculum Frameworks are in place for the 2015-2016 school year.
According to Michele Snyder, the Science Curriculum and Instruction Advisor for the Arkansas Department of Education, the key to successful implementation of the new state standards is “an ever-growing strategic implementation plan that includes the essential aspects of curriculum and instruction, professional development, and assessment.” In addition, “a solid communication plan must be ongoing to support these essential aspects.”
She added that they are “focused on developing and delivering effective professional development to teachers, administrators and curriculum coordinators to support schools in the transition to a new set of science standards,” and also working on developing new science summative assessments and resources and tools to support students and teachers.
Fourteen states (including the District of Columbia) have adopted the NGSS, including Arkansas, California, Delaware, District of Columbia, Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, Nevada, New Jersey, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington.
Click here to learn more about the Arkansas standards
Click here to read the press release from the Arkansas Department of Education
Click here to read a blog post in Education Week
Wyoming is going through the process of seeking input on science standards to share with a review committee. Input is being collected via an online survey and meetings are being held across the state. Here’s a round-up of news articles focusing on the process.
Science standard review process gets underway (Powell Tribune, May 28, 2015)
Editorial board: Get science discussion right this time (Casper Star Tribune, May 31, 2015)
Cheyenne weighs in on science standards (Wyoming Tribune Eagle, June 9, 2015)
LIV AMES FOR EDSOURCE TODAY
Students discuss a science project at Garfield Elementary School in Oakland
A review of some of California’s largest school districts shows little focus on the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). According to Ed Source, “fewer than half even mention the new science standards adopted by the state nearly two years ago in their Local Control and Accountability Plans, which they are required to draw up as a result of school reforms championed by Gov. Jerry Brown.”
The research was conducted by the California STEM Learning Network, an advocacy organization promoting science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education. The organization reviewed the accountability plans of the state’s 50 largest school districts, as well as the largest district in each county, and found that 43 percent made “explicit reference” to the science standards. Only 28 percent of the districts offered plans for teacher professional development to implement the standards.
Click here to read the story in Ed Source (June 3, 2015)
Click here to read the policy brief by California STEM Learning Network (May 2015)
According to the Associated Press, on Friday, May 29, the Republican-controlled Maine Senate upheld Gov. Paul LePage’s veto of a bill that would have required the state Department of Education to adopt the Next Generation Science Standards for K-12 students in Maine. The 19-15 vote was short of the two-thirds needed to override the veto.
LePage said that adopting the standards would be “significant, time consuming work” for schools and the bill doesn’t provide any additional funding for that effort.
Click here to read the Associated Press story as it appears in the Times Union. (May 29, 2015)
Education Week’s Liana Heitin compares the recently adopted South Dakota science standards and notes a strong connection to the Next Generation Science Standards, with some edits related to climate change and the Earth’s age.
Click here to read the Education Week article (May 26, 2015) registration required
Dr. Jeremy Peacock, a regional science content specialist in Georgia, president of the Georgia Science Teachers Association, and an NGSS@NSTA Curator wrote an opinion piece for the Atlanta Journal Constitution addressing the need to upgrade the state’s science standards. He highlights the research that is the basis of a revised draft of the standards now open for input, and encourages educators to get involved to support the standards by reviewing and commenting on them.
“The Georgia Science Teachers Association believes the time has come for our science teachers, business leaders, and community members to revisit our science standards in a process designed to move toward a vision for science education that best serves our students and our state.”
“The state Department of Education has begun a process to review and revise the science standards. Superintendent Richard Woods has a solid plan in place. The survey, open now to science teachers, will lead into a revision process that will include classroom teachers, higher education faculty, business partners, and community members. GSTA strongly supports these efforts and the objective to ensure Georgians have a voice.”
Click here to read the opinion piece in the Atlanta Journal Constitution (May 20, 2015)
Click here to visit the Georgia Science Teachers Association’s standards page for more information.
NSTA has released a number of innovative new resources to help science educators and leaders nationwide put the vision of the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) and the Framework for K-12 Science Education into action. They include Discover the NGSS: Primer and Unit Planner, the first-ever interactive e-book on the NGSS, complete with its own unit planner; NGSS-supported instructional resources vetted by an expert team of curators; and a series of videos showcasing NGSS-based teaching in action.
“We are seeing a tremendous amount of interest in and demand for materials based on the Framework and the NGSS, and it’s coming from teachers in all states, not just those that have adopted the NGSS,” said Juliana Texley, NSTA President. “These new NSTA resources will help all science teachers make important shifts in classroom instruction, regardless of the state in which they live.”
Click here to read the full NSTA press release
Education Week reporter, Liana Heitin, recently reported on how many districts around the country are “jumping the gun on their states” and bringing the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) into classrooms soon as possible. In many cases, she reports, science teachers have led the charge.
“I think what you’re seeing really is grassroots support among science teachers everywhere regardless of what’s happening at their state level,” said David L. Evans, the executive director of the Arlington, Va.-based National Science Teachers Association, which provided guidance during the standards’ development.
In Pulaski, WI, one of the districts highlighted in the article, the district officially adopted the NGSS, with the approval of the local school board and the encouragement of many teachers.
“What we expected to happen was the state would do their adoption in the summer of 2013, but that didn’t happen,” said Jenny Gracyalny, the director of learning services for the district. “So we decided go forward. … We’re a local-control state anyway.”
“It was our teachers who really said that these [Next Generation] standards accomplished what we needed,” she said. “If I’d had my way originally, we’d have taken it a little slower and not gone for adoption, but it was them saying our standards are old, they’re not relevant for students, we need to make some changes.”
Click here to read the May 6, 2015 article in Ed Week (registration required).
According to an Ed Week blog by Liana Heitin, a recent survey of 5,000 K-12 science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) teachers and supervisors found that 80 percent of those responding said they were familiar with the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), and of those, 60 percent held a favorable view of them.
Only 6 percent of all respondents had a negative impression of the NGSS.
The 2015 Business Report: National Survey STEM Education, was conducted online in November and December 2014 by Interactive Educational Systems Design, Inc., along with STEM Market Impact, LLC, and MCH Strategic Data. The study asked about schools’ STEM courses and programs, teacher professional development, and the availability of digital materials.
Click here to read the Ed Week blog.
Click here to read an article on the report in District Administration Magazine.
Teachers can get guidance about how to teach diverse groups of students and connect their lessons with the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) through the new NSTA Press book NGSS for All Students. The book features case studies that illustrate research- and standards-based classroom strategies to engage diverse seven demographic groups. Also included are chapters on how to design a unit with the NGSS and diversity in mind, apply a rubric to examine and improve teaching, and use the case studies in teacher study groups. Learn more and get your copy today. As always, NSTA members receive special pricing.