New science standards empower students

In an opinion piece appearing in the Portland Tribune on August 27, Bradford Hill, a teacher and president of the Oregon Science Teachers Association, writes about the changes coming to science classrooms with the adoption of the Next Generation Science Standards.

“Thanks to Oregon’s adoption of new, stronger science standards, we are transforming how we engage young people in science and broadening students’ understanding of how the tools of science can enhance any profession they may choose.”

Click here to read the

Iowa Becomes 15th State to Adopt the NGSS

Members of the Iowa State Board of Education today voted unanimously to adopt the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) for its K-12 students. The Board adopted the new science standards based on recommendations of a 19-member review team made up of educators, representatives from the workforce, and other Iowa science education stakeholders. The Board directed the State Department of Education to develop a timeline and plan to help schools statewide put the new science standards into practice.

“While the Next Generation Science Standards represents the backbone of what we’ve adopted today, these are now Iowa’s science standards because they’ve been reviewed, vetted and modified by Iowans,” said Charles Edwards of Des Moines, the board president. “I’m impressed with these high-quality science standards, as well as the process we’ve run in Iowa to review and adopt them.”

The NGSS have now been adopted by District of Columbia and 14 states, including Arkansas, California, Delaware, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, Nevada, New Jersey, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington.

Click here to read a press release issued by the Iowa State Board of Education (August 6, 2015)

Click here to read the review team’s full report.

Click here to read a news clip from Iowa’s KIMT TV. (August 10)

Click here to read a blog in Ed Week (August 11) registration required

New Science Exams for Illinois Students Based on the NGSS

The Chicago Tribune reports on new science exams coming to Illinois students this fall. Students in grades 5, 8 and 10 will take new online exams in science that are based on the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). The tests come after Illinois State Board of Education got in trouble with the U.S. Department of Education after opting not to test students and instead conduct a pilot of new exams based on the new standards. But not giving exams would violate federal law that requires science exams be given once during grades 3-5, 6-9 and 10-12.

According to University of Illinois at Chicago professor James Pellegrino, co-chair of a national committee on developing assessments for the new standards, “What we’re asking kids to be able to do is to be able to reason more. The questions are likely to be more challenging, but they should be able to deal with them if the instruction is allowed to catch up.”

The state board revealed it is partnering with the Washington, D.C., school district on a science assessment. That district had adopted the new science standards and had done field testing last spring in grades 5 and 8 and in high school biology. According to the article, the district is working on a plan to share test items with Illinois.

Click here to read the article in the Chicago Tribune (August 5, 2015) registration required

Click here to read a companion article that looks at Illinois science concepts, performance expectations

Report Sent to Iowa State Board of Ed Recommending NGSS Adoption

On Friday, July 17, an Iowa Science Standards Review Team submitted its formal report to the State Board of Education recommending adoption of the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS).

According to the state report:

We recommend the Next Generation Science Standards performance expectations be adopted as Iowa’s science standards, grade specific for grades K-8 and grade span for grades 9-12, acknowledging the importance of integrating the disciplinary core ideas, cross-cutting concepts, and science and engineering practices in achieving these standards. The performance expectations are statements of what students should be able to do to demonstrate their learning. They represent big ideas that combine content from the disciplinary core ideas, cross-cutting concepts, and science and engineering practices portions of the Next Generation Science Standards.

Additional recommendations include,

  • Professional development is provided to support the implementation of the new standards.
  • Professional development resources are available for use by any providers, teacher leaders, and users.
  • Time is provided for educators to take part in professional development.
  • The Iowa Core website,, provides access to the corresponding supporting documents of the Next Generation Science Standards.
  • The Assessment Task Force reconvenes as soon as the new science standards are approved and new assessments are available for review.

Click here to read the full report

Click here to read an article in the Marion Times (July 23, 2015)



Reports Explores State Approaches in Selecting New Science Standards

A new report by the National Association of State Boards of Education (NASBE) looks at the path six states took in selecting new science standards. The report “Common Themes, Individual Approaches: Six States’ Experiences with New Science Standards,” profiles the work of Arkansas, Delaware, DC, Kentucky, New Jersey, West Virginia.

Click here to download the report.

Arkansas Adopts NGSS for Grades K-8

ArkansasOn 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 Standards Review Process Well Underway

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)


Report finds California school districts lag in implementing science standards



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)

Maine Senate Upholds LePage Veto of Science Standards Bill

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)


South Dakota Adopts Near-Copy of Next Generation Science Standards



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