Delaware Adopts NGSS; Business Leaders Rally Around CCSS

On Sept. 19, Delaware became the seventh state to adopt the Next Generation Science Standards, and leading business executives from key firms such as Intel, Cisco, and ExxonMobil Foundation met to urge colleagues to “take up the fight to defend Common Core State Standards [CCSS].” They outlined plans to promote the CCSS through a number of strategies, which include national advertising and outreach campaigns to parents and company employees.

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Alignment of Curriculum Resources in NGSS

By Ted Willard, Director of NGSS@NSTA

Many educators are familiar with the idea of backward design in curriculum planning. As educators begin thinking of how to implement the Next Generation Science Standards, the architecture of the standards leads to questions about how to start. With NGSS, what to focus on depends in part on whether you are planning assessment or instruction.

The performance expectations provide direction to assessment developers of what students should be able to do at the end of instruction.  They are not designed to describe what students are doing during instruction.  Furthermore, for students to be able to successfully achieve a particular performance expectation, they will need to engage in several different practices to develop their understanding of a disciplinary core idea.

For example, consider the following performance expectation:

MS-ESS1-1. Develop and use a model of the Earth-sun-moon system to describe the cyclic patterns of lunar phases, eclipses of the sun and moon, and seasons. [Clarification Statement: Examples of models can be physical, graphical, or conceptual.]

This performance expectation was constructed with the following two disciplinary core ideas in mind:
ESS1.A: The Universe and Its Stars

  • Patterns of the apparent motion of the sun, the moon, and stars in the sky can be observed, described, predicted, and explained with models.

ESS1.B: Earth and the Solar System

  • This model of the solar system can explain eclipses of the sun and the moon. Earth’s spin axis is fixed in direction over the short-term but tilted relative to its orbit around the sun. The seasons are a result of that tilt and are caused by the differential intensity of sunlight on different areas of Earth across the year.

The performance expectation also is meant to guide assessment of the following practice:
Developing and Using Models

Modeling in 6–8 builds on K–5 experiences and progresses to developing, using, and revising models to describe, test, and predict more abstract phenomena and design systems.

  • Develop and use a model to describe phenomena

While NGSS based assessments of students will check their ability to develop a model, instruction should not be so limited. For students to learn what they need to know about the seasons, they will need to engage in multiple practices, not just the practice of developing and using models.  They will most likely need to ask questions, analyze data, construct explanation, etc.

That said, it is important that instruction subscribe to the vision behind the standard that students engage in scientific and engineering practices to develop and understanding of disciplinary core ideas and crosscutting concepts.

NSTA is developing a portal for teachers to share resources and part of the site will be curated.  In thinking through how this work will be done, we have been using the general rule that at a minimum, for a resource to be considered aligned to NGSS, it must address at least one disciplinary core idea AND one scientific and engineering practice.  However, that practice does not need to be the practice that is used in the performance expectation.

If a resource can’t be used to help students engage in a practice, it is hard for me to see how it could be considered aligned to NGSS.  Keep in mind that the overall list of practices is fairly wide-ranging.

  1. Asking questions (for science) and defining problems (for engineering)
  2. Developing and using models
  3. Planning and carrying out investigations
  4. Analyzing and interpreting data
  5. Using mathematics and computational thinking
  6. Constructing explanations (for science) and designing solutions (for engineering)
  7. Engaging in argument from evidence
  8. Obtaining, evaluating, and communicating information

So when planning instruction around NGSS pay attention to the Practices, Core Ideas, and Crosscutting Concepts in the Foundation box.

Kentucky Governor Moves Forward with NGSS

KYgovNews reports  indicate Kentucky Governor, Steve Beshear, will override a vote by the state’s Administrative Regulation Review Subcommittee that voted 5-1 on September 11 to reject the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). In a statement reported by the Courier-Journal, “Governor Beshear fully supports the science standards adopted by the Kentucky Board of Education and is disappointed that the … subcommittee did not approve them today.”

In a press release issued by Kentucky Education Commission Terry Holiday, more than 3,700 comments were received in favor of the standards, and less than two hundred opposed. In addition, 70 state and national groups have endorsed the NGSS, including NSTA.

Click here to read a news story by the Courier-Journal.

Click here to read the press release by Terry Holiday.

(Photo credit:  2011 AP file photo by Ed Reinke, published in Courier Journal)

 

California’s Decisions Show That NGSS Is State Driven

By Ted Willard, Director of NGSS@NSTA

The California State Board of Education unanimously adopted the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) this week, making it the sixth state to do so. The decision not only represents a move forward for evidence-based science instruction but also highlights the control and flexibility individual states have in terms of the NGSS.

The NGSS was developed by states and was designed for states. Despite erroneous claims that NGSS (and the Common Core) are unfair mandates from the federal government. California was one of twenty-six states that oversaw the development of NGSS and they made decisions about its structure.

These lead states collectively made decisions about the overall scope and structure of the standards. For example, they agreed that while the standards should specify what students must learn each year in the elementary grades, states should have flexibility in what topics are studied each year in middle school and high school.

Some educators believe that students are best served when they study some life science, some Earth science, and some physical science each year. Such an approach allows simpler ideas in each discipline to be studied in earlier grades and more complex ideas in each discipline to be studied in later grades. Topics can be sequenced to build upon and one another over several grades. In addition, this approach presents students with the full variety of science every year.

Others believe that students are best served when they focus on a particular topic every year. as this allows students to see the coherence of ideas within that discipline. In addition, since teachers often have expertise in one discipline but not others, this approach makes it more likely that students are taught by someone with a deep conceptual understanding of the topic.

My point here isn’t about which of these approaches is best; both have their merits. Instead, I want to point out that the developers of NGSS recognized that these decisions are better left to the states. Appendix K of the standards provides model course maps for either of these configurations. More important, the appendix walks through the process of how the NGSS writers developed the model course maps so that states would have guidance about how to do the process themselves.

What does this have to do with California? The board deferred until November on deciding the sequencing of science topics in middle school. Currently in California, the sixth grade curriculum focuses on Earth science, the seventh grade curriculum focuses on life science, and eighth grade curriculum focuses on physical science. A panel of experts in the state recommended an integrated approach where students in each grade would study some of each discipline.

To reiterate the point: When a state chooses to adopt NGSS, THE STATE IS MAKING A CHOICE. NO ONE IS MAKING THE STATE DO ANYTHING.

Furthermore, when the state chooses to adopt NGSS, there are many other choices that must be made. One of these is to choose how courses will be structured in middle school. But there are other choices as well about assessments, professional development, and curriculum materials.

Choosing NGSS is just the first step in a process that can lead better instruction for all students.

So I congratulate California for choosing to adopt NGSS, and I am happy for the students in California because regardless of whether they are taught only one science discipline each year of middle school or a blend of several disciplines each year, they will now have the opportunity to study science more deeply with these standards.

I encourage other states to make the same choice for the benefit of their children.

California Joins List of States Adopting NGSS

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On September 4, California became the 6th state to adopt the Next Generation Science Standards after a unanimous vote by the State Board of Education. A timeline and plan for implementation will be decided in the coming months. The State Board did not make a decision about middle school standards and if they should be taught by discipline–earth science in 6th grade, life science in 7th grade, and physical science in 8th grade–or revamped into new integrated science courses.

Click here to read a blog post by Ed Week’s Erik Robelen.

Click here for a news article by Ed Source.

Click here to read the press release by the California Department of Education.

 

 

Get the Free Next Generation Science Standards App

app_icon_72_science

NSTA is excited to announce, in partnership with MasteryConnect, a free app for the Next Generation Science Standards.

MasteryConnect, the makers of the most downloaded app for the Common Core (with over 700,000 downloads), has created a great way to get the standards in the palm of your hand … through an app on your tablet or mobile device.

The Next Generation Science Standards app gives you multiple ways to view the standards including DCI and Topic arrangements, and also includes convenient search functionality. The app also makes referencing standards in the Common Core simple by providing a linkage between the NGSS App and MasteryConnect’s Common Core App.

As part of the partnership with MasteryConnect, NSTA is providing additional free resources within the app, including several articles from NSTA’s peer reviewed journals, and free chapters from its line of NGSS-related titles, including The NSTA Reader’s Guide to the Next Generation Science Standards and Science for the Next Generation: Preparing for the New Standards.

You can download the Next Generation Science Standards app (as well as MasteryConnect’s other free apps) by searching “MasteryConnect” or “Next Generation Science Standards” in your app store or visiting the iOS Store or Android Marketplace. Look for the app to be available in the Windows Store soon.

AAPT Urges Adoption and Implementation of NGSS

AAPT - American Association of Physics Teachers

The American Association of Physics Teachers issued a statement on July 29 urging adoption and implementation of the Next Generation Science Standards. Following is an except from that statement:

“The American Association of Physics Teachers (AAPT) supports the adoption and implementation of common, nationwide science education standards to provide a coherent science and engineering education program for all K-12 students, not just those aiming for science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) careers. The Association supports the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) as a guide for the development of assessments for grade-level and grade-band measures of student performance in science and engineering and the Association urges states to adopt and implement the NGSS.”

To read the full statement: http://www.aapt.org/Resources/policy/upload/NGSS-AAPT-Letterhead-Response-130729.pdf

 

Maryland and Vermont Adopt NGSS

On June 25, 2013, the state boards of education in Maryland and Vermont voted unanimously to adopt the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), bringing the number of states to formally adopt NGSS to five (Rhode Island, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, and Vermont). Full implementation in Maryland’s public schools is expected to be completed in time for the 2017–18 school year. In a press release Vermont Governor Shumlin stated, “I hear often from Vermont businesses struggling to fill positions due to the lack of applicants skilled in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). The Next Generation Science Standards help address these gaps and keep Vermont’s schools on the leading edge nationwide.”

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NSTA Responds to Fordham Institute Report on Next Generation Science Standards

Arlington, Va. June 13, 2013 — NSTA issued a statement regarding the release of a report by the Thomas B. Fordham Institute on the Next Generation Science Standards.

“The National Science Teachers Association strongly disagrees with the opinions of the Fordham Institute regarding the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). The NGSS contains rigorous and substantive science content that will give all students the skills and knowledge they need to be informed citizens, college ready, and prepared for careers in a workforce that now considers science skills and knowledge to be basic and fundamental requirements. We also applaud the NGSS writers for maintaining a teachable number of core ideas.  If fully implemented, we believe the majority of students will leave high school with a far greater understanding and working knowledge of science than is currently being achieved.

To read the full statement: http://www.nsta.org/about/pressroom.aspx?id=59989