Districts Out Ahead of States in Adopting Science Standards

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).

Majority of K-12 STEM Educators Familiar with (and Positive About) NGSS

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.

New NSTA Press Book Provides Strategies to Engage All Students in the NGSS

NGSS for All StudentsTeachers 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.

IL School District Advances Area-Wide Initiative to Revise Science Curriculum

According to the New Lenox Patch, more than 50 science teachers from Lincoln-Way High School District 210 and area elementary and middle school districts recently came together  to continue their work to realign science curriculum to the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). This is the final in a series of workshops that is transforming science curriculum with a focus around STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math). The realigned curriculum will be implemented by the fall of 2016.

“Schools across the country are making a shift in how science is taught to give students more critical thinking and problem-solving skills now required in STEM-based career fields,” said Tim Reilly, Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum.

“You don’t see this kind of unified curriculum-writing in most communities,” said Reilly. “We are fortunate to have such dedicated science teachers who are working together to ensure that our vision for science is implemented progressively across classrooms from kindergarten to high school.”

Click here to read the story in the New Lenox (IL) Patch (April 21, 2015)

State BOE Adopts Amended Climate Change Science Standards

Earlier today, the West Virginia Board of Education voted 6-2 to adopt an amended set of science standards for West Virginia schools. The amendments came at the request of Board member Wade Linger.

According to an article by West Virginia Public Broadcasting, Linger moved to amend the standards in the following three ways:

  • Moving a sentence from the body of the standards into their introduction for emphasis that reads, “There is deliberative sequencing of objectives (based on programmatic level) to ensure students will develop skills to acknowledge and distinguish claim(s) from alternate or opposing claims, support arguments either claims or counterclaims with evidence, and communicate about science related topics/issues in a knowledgeable, clear and objective manner.”
  • Modifying standard S.6.ESS.6 to say “Ask questions to clarify evidence of the factors that have caused the change in global temperature over the past century,” rather than “rise in global temperature.”
  • Modify standard S.HS.ENV.17 to add “natural forces” as an area of study for the possible causes of the change.

Click here to read the full story by WV Public Radio.

Click here to read an article in the West Virginia Gazette.

Wyoming to resume reviewing science standards

An article in the Wyoming Tribune Eagle reports that the members of the Wyoming Board of Education are taking a middle road in their work to revise state science standards. Members of the board decided at their last meeting to move forward with a review process for the standards that builds off of earlier work, board Chairman Pete Gosar said. “We’re not going to try to start over again,” he said. “A lot of really good work had been done.”

Click here to read the full article in the Wyoming Tribune Eagle (March 21, 2015)



Achieve and Teaching Channel Release New Videos about NGSS

Achieve and Teaching Channel have released four videos that provide an overview of key innovations in the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). The videos provide educators with a deeper understanding of the benefits of the NGSS, specifically the three-dimensional learning that the standards provide to students. Video topics include:

Click here to view the videos.

NGSS a Major Focus of NSTA National Conference

The Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) was a major focus at NSTA’s National Conference in Chicago March 12-15. NSTA hosted an all-day forum on NGSS and numerous sessions were given to standing-room-only crowds.

Liana Heiten from Education Week filed a blog on a session given by Brian Reiser at the NGSS@NSTA Forum on Friday, March 13, where he describes the standards as “a shift from learning about something to figuring out something.” Click here to read her blog, Teaching the Next Generation Science Standards with ‘Mysteries.” 

NSTA will soon be posting slides and presentations of some of the NGSS presentations.





Wyoming Ends Ban on Teaching Climate Science

Wyoming Gov. Matt Mead signed into law a bill to allow the Wyoming State Department of Education to consider Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), as well as other standards. The Legislature last year, in a budget footnote, prohibited the board from considering the NGSS because some lawmakers were concerned they emphasized a link between burning fossil fuels and global warming.

Click here to read the March 2 article in the National Journal

Click here to read the March 3 article in the Casper Star Tribune


NSTA Announces STEM Initiative for School and District Administrators

With a $500,000 commitment from Chevron, NSTA is launching a new initiative to support school administrators as they work to strengthen teaching and learning in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) subjects. The Chevron-supported NSTA Administrators Initiative will include face-to-face professional development opportunities, coupled with a suite of resources developed especially for school and district leaders that will build knowledge and understanding of science and engineering practices, a key component of the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). The program is geared for principals and vice principals as well as district leaders who provide instructional coaching for teachers.

NSTA will kick-off the initiative with a face-to-face workshop for administrators in conjunction with a broader effort to engage district teams at the NSTA National Conference in Chicago. On Thursday, March 12, administrators will participate in a four-hour workshop, Teaming Up for STEM: NSTA District Administrator Workshop.

For more information about the Chevron-supported NSTA Administrators Initiative, or to learn how to register for the March 12 District Administrator Workshop, click here. To read the full press release, click here.