Delaware delays new science exam amid over-testing concerns

Push back from Delaware district leaders, as well as pressures to reduce the state’s testing burden, stopped a proposal to create new state-mandated science and social studies tests for grades 3-10 that would have increased the amount of time students spend taking statewide standardized tests by roughly 25 percent.

Delaware is rebooting and now looking for a new science test that aligned with the Next Generation Science Standards. The updated plan is to roll out that new exam as a field test in 2017-18, one year later than anticipated. It will replace the DCAS science exam currently given in grades 5, 8, and 10.

Whatever test the state ends up choosing, officials no longer intend to increase the amount of hours students spend taking statewide assessments for science and social studies. For each subject area, the state will test students once in elementary school, once in middle school, and once in high school, as is required by federal law.

Click here to read the article in NewsWorks (February 5, 2016)


Developing Science Standards for 21st Century Students

A recent segment on WCAI radio in Massachusetts focused on how science issues, such as climate change and genetically modified organisms, touch each of us every day. It’s important that the public be able to understand science so that when they look for information, they are able to discern reliable sources from misinformation, and assemble a big picture from all the puzzle pieces. These skills, including critical thinking, data analysis, and reasoning, are front and center in new science education standards, called Next Generation Science Standards. Education experts say it’s not enough for students to regurgitate memorized facts; they need to be able to explain the concepts behind such facts and combine them to construct new ideas.

Click here to read the full WCAI segment by Heather Goldstone. (January 26, 2016)

Embrace the New Standards in Science Education

In 2013, Kansas became the third state to adopt the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). In a letter to The Topeka-Capital Journal online, Brian Cole, a science teacher and president of the Kansas Association of Teachers of Science,  talks about the new standards as a way to “greatly improve science education for our kids and all students in Kansas.”

“For too long our science standards have been focused on terminology and factual knowledge of science. Current research informs us how the students of today learn best. Students in Kansas classrooms need to be engaged in science. Students need to “do” science, to explore and use the practices and thinking of scientists and engineers while applying and exploring science concepts. That’s when science learning truly happens and students really come to understand and retain content.”

Click here to read the letter in The Topeka-Capital Journal online (, January 19, 2015)

The science of change: How Delaware is transitioning to new science standards

Newsworks reporter  Avi Wolfman-Arent looks at the adoption and implementation of the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) in Delaware. He answers many questions about the NGSS, including what they are, what makes them different, and what Delaware’s plan is for implementing them. An accompanying video of teacher Jacqui Kisiel from Rehoboth Elementary School in Delaware showcases the shifts in teaching.

Click here to read the Newsworks article and view the video (January 11, 2016)

California grapples with timeline to implement science standards

Two years after it adopted a new set of science standards, the California State Board of Education is trying to allow enough time to best phase them in so it avoids some of the pitfalls it faced in implementing the Common Core State Standards in math and English language arts.

The Next Generation Science Standards have in many ways been overshadowed by the Common Core, which the state adopted in 2010 and is now being implemented in school districts across California. By contrast, the science standards, adotped in 2013, are being introduced more slowly across the state.

At its November meeting in Sacramento, the State Board of Education voted to extend the timeline for finalizing a new science curriculum “framework” from its original projected date of January 2016 to September or November 2016.

Click here to read the article in Ed Source (December 13, 2015)

Bristol (CT) educators readied for new science standards

The state of Connecticut adopted the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) in November 2015. As the standards are introduced in classrooms over the next few years, the Bristol Press reports that students will be doing more hands-on science.

“It’s an exciting time for science teachers,” said Richard Gagliardi, the Bristol school district’s director of technology.

NGSS is designed to engage students more in learning scientific and engineering principles and connecting that learning to real world applications, he said.

Click here to read the article in the Bristol press (December 14, 2015)

Why teachers embrace Kentucky science standards

Tricia Shelton, a science teacher and teacher leader with 20 years’ experience, writes about the widespread support for science standards in Kentucky. Tricia is a 2014 NSTA Distinguished Teaching Award winner for her contributions to and demonstrated excellence in science teaching.

“As a science educator for more than 20 years, I have seen countless new initiatives come and go. Some of these efforts, while well-intentioned, weren’t very effective in supporting student learning and igniting students’ innate curiosity.  But the Kentucky Academic Standards for Science (Science KAS) – which are based on the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) – have the potential to do both, and science teachers across our state have embraced them.”

Click here to read the article in the Kentucky Courier-Journal (Nov. 18, 2015)

Congratulations to CT and MI for Adopting the NGSS

Connecticut and Michigan are the most recent states to officially adopt the Next Generation Science Standards, joining AR, CA, DE, IA, IL, KS, KY, MD, NJ, NV, OR, RI, VT, WA and the District of Columbia. The Connecticut vote occured on Nov. 5 and the Michigan vote came on Nov. 10.

Click here to read a press release issued by Dianna Wentzell, Connecticut State Commissioner of Education.

Click here for background information on the Michigan standards.



Schools with Advanced Science Students Get Accelerated Pathways Advice

The NGSS Accelerated Pathways document released by Achieve, Inc., guides schools seeking to compress the timeframe in which science courses are taught. The intent is to serve high-achieving students seeking to tackle more advanced content earlier in their middle or high school careers.

“The “NGSS Accelerated Pathways” document doesn’t offer curriculum. It focuses on three exemplar course maps that outline how a school might reorganize NGSS performance expectations into fewer courses without omitting any.”

Thee resource also addresses how NGSS and Advanced Placement (AP) courses are conceptually similar.

Click here to read the article in T.H.E. Journal (Nov. 3, 2015)

How NGSS Transforms Science Class with Hands-on Learning

eSchool News recently published a piece by Colorado science teacher, Pat Dickerson, on the Next Generation Science Standards. The piece is reposted from the blog.

“Imagine 30 sixth-graders racing to your classroom every day, so excited about learning that they are willing to think critically and problem-solve for the next 49 minutes. This is my world every day. I’ve been teaching for more than 30 years, and this is the most excited I’ve ever seen students. What’s changed? Simply put: We integrated the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) into our curriculum.

My students and I are now so engaged in learning and actively participating in science that we often end up rushing to clean up at the bell. Parents tell me their dinnertime conversations are about science and what their kids are doing and learning. When we have our STEM Fair each year, parents are amazed by what they see and hear from the students. “Doing science” makes for a messy, noisy classroom –- but the students are engaged and thinking critically, guided by the NGSS.”

Click here to read the article in eSchool News (10/29/15)