WASHINGTON – April 9, 2013 – On Tuesday, April 9, the final Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), a new set of voluntary, rigorous, and internationally benchmarked standards for K-12 science education, were released. Twenty six states and their broad-based teams worked together for two years with a 41-member writing team and partners to develop the standards which identify science and engineering practices and content that all K-12 students should master in order to be fully prepared for college, careers and citizenship. The NGSS were built upon a vision for science education established by the Framework for K-12 Science Education, published by the National Academies’ National Research Council in 2011. The lead state partners include Arizona, Arkansas, California, Delaware, Georgia, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Tennessee, Vermont, Washington and West Virginia.
“The NGSS aim to prepare students to be better decision makers about scientific and technical issues and to apply science to their daily lives. By blending core science knowledge with scientific practices, students are engaged in a more relevant context that deepens their understanding and helps them to build what they need to move forward with their education -whether that’s moving on to a four-year college or moving into post-secondary training,” said Matt Krehbeil, Science Education Program Consultant, of Kansas. “This blending of the dimensions described in the Framework for K-12 Science Education aligns with what research has shown are the most effective practices in teaching science. Students who experience quality instruction based on the NGSS will be prepared to understand the world around them and will be college and career ready.”
“As emphasized in the Framework, an active learning of scientific practices is critical, and takes time. A focus on these practices, rather than on content alone, leads to a deep, sustained learning of the skills needed to be a successful adult, regardless of career choice,” said Bruce Alberts, PhD, who is Editor-in-Chief of Science and served two six-year terms as President of the National Academy of Sciences. “We must teach our science students to do something in science class, not to memorize facts.”
The creation of the NGSS was entirely state-driven, with no federal funds or incentives to create or adopt the standards. The process was primarily funded by the Carnegie Corporation of New York, a leading philanthropy dedicated to improving science education in the U.S. The NGSS are grounded in a sound, evidence-based foundation of current scientific research-including research on the ways students learn science effectively-and identify the science all K-12 students should know.
“In Michigan, our conversation about education always includes workforce training. Whenever we adopt a new set of standards we make sure to promote the opportunities the standards afford, not just in terms of college readiness, but in terms of workforce readiness. That’s particularly relevant with the NGSS,” said Susan Codere, Project Coordinator for the NGSS in Michigan.
“The Next Generation Science Standards are going to pull together inquiry and practice, and recognize the role of engineering. Pulling together the cross-cutting concepts is going to be a challenge, but it’s really effective pedagogy,” said Ellen Ebert, Washington State’s Director of Science for Teaching and Learning at the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction. “In Washington State we’re looking at the NGSS to propel students into 21st century-we’re looking at college and career readiness. This is a real opportunity to help students see the potential of science in their lives.”
“The Next Generation of Science Standards promise to help students understand why is it that we have to know science and help them use scientific learning to develop critical thinking skills-which may be applied throughout their lives, no matter the topic. Today, students see science as simply a list of facts and ideas that they are expected to memorize. In contrast to that approach education researchers have learned, particularly in the last 15 to 20 years, that if we cover fewer ideas, but go into more depth, students come away with a much richer understanding. Unlike previous standards, where you have separation of inquiry and ideas that students should know, in the NGSS they are now together,” said Joseph S. Krajcik, Professor of Science Education in the College of Education at Michigan State University and a member of the writing team.