Next Generation Science Standards NGSS

In 2012, The National Research Council, representing the National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine, published “A Framework for K-12 Science Education: Practices, Crosscutting Concepts, and Core Ideas” as the first step in a process to create national standards for K-12 science education. Through a collaborative, state-led process science standards are being developed that will be based on the Framework. It is anticipated that the vast majority of states will adopt the Framework and the standards, currently known as the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). 

The National Research Council states that “The overarching goal of our framework for K-12 science education is to ensure that by the end of 12th grade, all students have some appreciation of the beauty and wonder of science; possess sufficient knowledge of science and engineering to engage in public discussions on related issues; are careful consumers of scientific and technological information related to their everyday lives; are able to continue to learn about science outside school; and have the skills to enter careers of their choice, including (but not limited to) careers in science, engineering, and technology.”   In addition, the NRC states that “Currently, K-12 science education in the United States fails to achieve these outcomes, in part because it is not organized systematically across multiple years of school, emphasizes discrete facts with a focus on breadth over depth, and does not provide students with engaging opportunities to experience how science is actually done. (NRC, 2012). 

The Framework recommends that science education be built around three dimensions:  (1) scientific and engineering practices, (2) cross cutting concepts that have common application across fields, and (3) core ideas in four disciplinary areas: physical sciences; life sciences; earth and space sciences; and engineering, technology, and applications of science. The Framework draws upon ideas set forth in earlier reform documents such as Project 2061 (American Association for the Advancement of Science, 1993), and the National Science Education Standards (NRC, 1996) but is destined to be more influential since most states have already adopted the Common Core Standards (National Governors Association, 2012) in mathematics and English and have expressed interest in adopting the Next Generation Science Standards as well.  The Framework and Next Generation Science Standards will provide a roadmap for reforming science education and will create a need for new teaching strategies to traverse this map.  Fortunately, recent advances in collaborative cloud-based computing have provided the technological tools which allow the implementation of new teaching methodologies by which many of these goals can be reached more effectively than previously possible.