New standards teach Montana students to work like scientists

Guest Opinion by Linda Rost (Billings Gazette)

Montana is adopting new science standards. Our new science standards, for which I served as one of the writers, are currently open for public comment and review.

The Next Generation Science Standards were written in 2013 by teams of teachers and scientists from 26 lead states, including Montana. The main focus of NGSS is for students to actively do science and engineering, the way scientists and engineers do, rather than passively learning about it.

I am the biology, chemistry and science research teacher at Baker High School, with nine years of experience. I have been implementing parts of the standards that are complementary to our current standards for the past three years, and have seen remarkable improvements in student achievement, depth of learning and growth. The lessons I have designed are deeper, exciting, and most importantly, students are the scientists and engineers.

Click here to read the full story in the Billings Gazette (August 27, 2016)

New Science Assessments in Delaware

Delaware will lead the nation in changing the way students are assessed in science.

Delaware adopted the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) as the state’s science content standards in October 2013.

As the state eyes a new science assessment, educators are using this as an opportunity to revamp how the state measures students’ science mastery.

According to WGMD News Radio, the tests will go beyond multiple choice and short answer assessments to include hybrid models where students manipulate materials and data offline then provide responses on a computerized platform.

“Educators in the field have led the call for this change and innovation,” Secretary of Education Steve Godowsky said. “The leadership of the Science Coalition – which unifies educators, district and charter leaders, and representatives from the higher education and business communities – has been key to the development of the state’s plan.”

Delaware envisions a comprehensive science assessment system in grades 3 to 10, consisting of three distinct types of assessment. Under this system, throughout the academic year students in grades 3 to 10 will take teacher-developed quizzes that will provide educators and students information on learning in real time. These will be teacher-developed with the intention of becoming part of an open access item bank that teachers can use at their discretion.

Students will also take tests shortly after the completion of each instructional unit. Each end-of-unit test is meant to provide information on student learning of the NGSS content in each unit for the purposes of instruction (e.g., determining if additional instruction on previously instructed topics is needed) and evaluation (e.g., informing curriculum adoption, adaptation, and modification) at classroom, school, district and state levels.

Finally, students in grades 5, 8, and 10 (biology) will also complete a performance task meant to capture students’ learning of the content instructed during the entire year in greater depth than on the end-of-unit tests. This assessment is meant to capture the ways that students integrate, transfer and apply science knowledge and skills learned during the year.

Click here to read the full story from WGMD News Radio (August 25, 2016)

Click here to read a press release from Delaware Department of Education.

Changes in La Jolla Schools Focus on Science

La Jolla Elementary, Bird Rock Elementary, Torrey Pines Elementary, Muirlands Middle and La Jolla High schools are bringing something novel to their campuses this year, including new faculty and staff, building improvements and/or the roll out of Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS).

As part of a national shift in science education, the Next Generation Science Standards are being rolled out over the next few years to change America’s public schools’ science curriculum. Using “strands” of different science emphases, NGSS are aimed at giving all students a science education that prepares them for college and career. Starting in 2016, K-5 schools will integrate the Earth Sciences strand, followed by the Physical Sciences strand in 2017 and Life Sciences strand in 2018. La Jolla’s schools are following suit.

Click here to read the full story in LaJolla Light (August 17, 2016)

NGSS Begins Releasing Sample Science Standard Bundles

The organization behind the Next Generation Science Standards has begun releasing sample “bundles” of standards to help people move away from thinking that the standards are supposed to be taught as a checklist. The bundles are intended to help teachers and curriculum developers understand how they might implement the science standards or student “performance expectations” in ways that can help learners see the connections between concepts and thereby optimize class time.

Click here to read the full story in T.H.E. Journal (August 9, 2016)

New science standards urge shift from ‘learning about’ to ‘figuring out’

Next Gen Science Standards, adopted by 16 states and counting, make students think like scientists

In at least 16 states, science education is undergoing a serious transformation. The key is three-dimensional teaching and learning, and even districts in states that have not adopted the Next Generation Science Standards may want to consider the shift.

An important instructional shift with NGSS is changing from simply telling students information they need to know to letting them figure it out. Students, then, go from “learning about to figuring out.”

Students who grow up in classrooms organized by the Next Generation Science Standards see a natural phenomenon that sparks their curiosity and then are guided along a path of inquiry, engaging in the activities real scientists do to make sense of it. As a K-12 science framework, the NGSS encourages teachers to help students build on prior knowledge and draw connections across science disciplines and grade levels to deepen their understanding from one year to the next.

Click here to read the full story in EducationDive (August 3, 2016)


Education Week Video Interview on NGSS with NSTA Executive Director

davidAn EducationWeek video team sat down with NSTA Executive Director David Evans to get a better understanding the Next Generation Science Standards, including how the standards were developed, what makes them different from previous standards, and whether teachers are ready for the changes ahead.

“Adopting new standards is not like putting on a fresh shirt,” he says at one point. “This is a real process and it’s going to take a while to do it. It’s going to take a while for instruction and it’s going to take a while for assessment.”

The interview was part of a larger reporting project focusing on schools in Wyoming that are already implementing the standards. The program was featured last month on the PBS NewsHour.

Click here to view the video interview: Understanding the Next Genration Science Standards. (Ed Week, July 28, 2016)

New standards turn students into scientists

The San Diego Union Tribune examines the work in San Diego to work towards new science standards.

“Students will act as scientists under a new set of science education guidelines that emphasize asking questions and solving problems, and the state is seeking input on how that will shape classroom instruction.

The draft framework for California schools outlines the ways that science education will change over the next few years, as the Next Generation Science Standards are rolled out through 2018. The framework is open for public comment until Aug. 29.

Eight California school districts and two charter schools have been testing the new science standards, and four of those are in San Diego. Vista Unified School District, San Diego Unified School District, Lakeside Union School District and High Tech High School are among the 10 organizations throughout the state that have tried the new practices already.”

The framework is available to the public at, and comments can be submitted to scienceframework

Click here to read the full article in the San Diego Union Tribune (July 22, 2016)

Next Generation Science Standards: What Do Lessons Look Like?

Ed Week’s Liana Heiten writes about a recent Commentary by an assistant professor of elementary education at the College of New Jersey about the work to develop lessons that reflect three dimentioanal learning as recommended in the NGSS.

Heiten notes “as of now, there’s little in the way of materials aligned to the NGSS, so most teachers are forced to come up with these sorts of lessons on their own.”

She asks, “What are you doing differently with the NGSS? And where are you getting your lessons?”

Click here to read the blog in Ed Week (July 7, 2016).

Preparing Teachers for Next Generation Science Standards

Lauren Madden, an assistant professor of elementary education at the College of New Jersey, authors a commentary piece for Education Week on how she is preparing future science educators to use the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS).

“This integrated approach to science teaching and learning may seem unfamiliar, and it certainly requires a shift in planning and teaching for many teachers and schools. But the ideas embraced by the NGSS, such as grounding science instruction in the act of doing science, have long been seen as best practices in education. Many science educators agree that the standards simply delineate what good science teaching looks like.”

Click here to read the full piece in Ed Week (July 5, 2016)

Louisiana to review science standards

Louisiana’s top school board has endorsed a review of science standards in its public schools. The benchmarks used today were crafted in 1997, and they are the third oldest in the nation.

According to an article in The Advocate, a 31-member committee will oversee the revisions with the assistance of three subcommittees. Work sessions are set to start in August, including public comments.

The panel is scheduled to make its final recommendations in February and the state Board of Elementary and Secondary Education will review the proposed changes in March.

Click here to read the full article in The Advocate (June 21, 2016)