that science educators can’t use aspects of this work now. In fact, it is important for science educators to begin to consider how learning progressions might be used in their own schools and classrooms and how learning progressions might affect their current teaching practices. The effectiveness of learning progressions is dependent on committed and capable implementation, and they will benefit from the experience and feedback of early adopters who can also play an active role in refining the practice.
In order for productive science learning to take place, students and teachers need to have a clear idea of major conceptual goals. We’ve proposed a frame for thinking about K-8 goals, but shorter term goals can also be set for a four- to six-week unit or over a year of instruction. Science educators can begin to reflect on their curricular goals, identifying and focusing on those that are most scientifically powerful and fundamental.
Meaningful science learning takes time, and learners need repeated, varied opportunities to encounter and grapple with ideas. Identifying core ideas means making hard decisions about “coverage” and will require that a curriculum be pared down and significantly focused. For this reason, it is advisable to begin on a small scale. A group of teachers at a given grade level, for example, might begin with a single unit of study, one that they feel comfortable with; perhaps the unit they feel is the strongest at their grade. They will need to give themselves ample time to identify meaningful problems, figure out how best to sequence the unit, and plan lessons that will provide students with the skills they need to do the science involved. Beginning this effort a year in advance of trying to enact changes to the curriculum should allow time for adequate teacher learning and planning.
Whether at the state, district, school, or individual classroom level, as educators take up learning progressions, it is important to treat them as a research and development initiative. As such, educators will require support in order to break from current practice and embrace new ideas. They will require feedback on the quality of the changes they enact as well as student learning outcomes.