Giving Compass' Take:

• Michelle Berkeley unpacks Next Generation Science Standards and what they mean for students and the future of education.

• Do STEM programs you support reflect the ideals laid out here? How can funders work to spread effective STEM education? 

• Learn how to support STEM education

Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) are intended to provide all students in the U.S. an internationally-benchmarked science education through a structured, coherent approach to science content and practice.

In response to the fact that science standards had not been revised since the beginning of the 21st century, despite the many advances in science that have occurred in that time, education reform organization Achieve led the collaborative effort between twenty-six state partners, the National Research Council (NRC), the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA), and the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), and a final draft of the standards was released in April of 2013.

The standards were developed in a two step process; first came the development of the Framework for K–12 Science Education, a research- and evidence-based document identifying what science all K-12 students should know and how students learn science most effectively, and then the science standards were developed by science educators and other experts based on the framework.

Every NGSS has three prongs working together to create a three dimensional learning experience. These include the following:

  1. Crosscutting Concepts are a means of linking the different domains of science identified as Physical Science, Life Science, Earth and Space Science, and Engineering, Technology and Applications of Science. Examples of crosscutting concepts include: patterns, similarity and diversity; cause and effect; scale, proportion and quantity; systems and system models; energy and matter; structure and function; and stability and change. Thoroughly understanding these concepts helps students to interrelate knowledge and develop a scientifically-based view of the world.
  2. Science and Engineering Practice helps students understand what scientists and engineers do to investigate, develop theories, and build models and systems. By defining and engaging in practices, students better understand the relevance of science and its connection to everyday life.
  3. Disciplinary Core Ideas focus science curriculum, instruction and assessments on the most essential aspects of science. Core ideas meet at least two of the following four criteria.
    1. Have broad importance across multiple  sciences or engineering disciplines or be a key organizing concept of a single discipline;
      Provide a key tool for understanding or investigating more complex ideas and solving problems;
    2. Relate to the interests and life experiences of students or be connected to societal or personal concerns that require scientific or technological knowledge;
    3. Be teachable and learnable over multiple grades at increasing levels of depth and sophistication.

Read the full article about Next Generation Science Standards by Michelle Berkeley at Getting Smart.