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APPENDIX A and application as opposed to memorization of facts devoid of context. The Framework goes on to emphasize that CONCEPTUAL SHIFTS IN THE NEXT learning about science and engineering involves integra- GENERATION SCIENCE STANDARDS tion of the knowledge of scientific explanations (i.e., con- tent knowledge) and the practices needed to engage in scientific inquiry and engineering design. Thus the frame- The Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) provide an impor- work seeks to illustrate how knowledge and practice must tant opportunity to improve not only science education but also be intertwined in designing learning experiences in K–12 student achievement. Based on A Framework for K–12 Science science education. (NRC, 2012, p. 11) Education: Practices, Crosscutting Concepts, and Core Ideas 2. The Next Generation Science Standards are student perfor- (Framework), the NGSS are intended to reflect a new vision for mance expectations—NOT curriculum. American science education. The following conceptual shifts in Even though within each performance expectation Science and the NGSS demonstrate what is new and different about the NGSS: Engineering Practices (SEPs) are partnered with a particular 1. K–12 science education should reflect the interconnected Disciplinary Core Idea (DCI) and Crosscutting Concept (CC) in the nature of science as it is practiced and experienced in the real NGSS, these intersections do not predetermine how the three are world. linked in curriculum, units, or lessons. Performance expectations simply clarify the expectations of what students will know and The framework is designed to help realize a vision for be able to do by the end of the grade or grade band. Additional education in the sciences and engineering in which stu- work will be needed to create coherent instructional programs dents, over multiple years of school, actively engage in that help students achieve these standards. scientific and engineering practices and apply crosscut- ting concepts to deepen their understanding of the core As stated previously, past science standards at both the state and ideas in these fields. (NRC, 2012, p. 12) district levels have treated the three dimensions of science as separate and distinct entities, leading to preferential treatment The vision represented in the Framework is new in that students in assessment or instruction. It is essential to understand that the must be engaged at the nexus of the three dimensions: emphasis placed on a particular Science and Engineering Practice or • Science and Engineering Practices, Crosscutting Concept in a performance expectation is not intended • Crosscutting Concepts, and to limit instruction, but to make clear the intent of the assessments. • Disciplinary Core Ideas. An example of this is illustrated in two performance expectations in high school physical sciences that use the practice of modeling. Currently, most state and district standards express these dimen- Models are basically used for three reasons: (1) to represent or sions as separate entities, leading to their separation in both describe, (2) to collect data, or (3) to predict. The first use is typical instruction and assessment. Given the importance of science and in schools because models and representations are usually synony- engineering in the 21st century, students require a sense of con- mous. However, the use of models to collect data or to predict phe- textual understanding with regard to scientific knowledge, how nomena is new. For example: it is acquired and applied, and how science is connected through a series of concepts that help further our understanding of the Construct models to explain changes in nuclear energies world around us. Student performance expectations have to during the processes of fission, fusion, and radioactive include a student’s ability to apply a practice to content knowl- decay and the nuclear interactions that determine nuclear edge. Performance expectations thereby focus on understanding stability. 1
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and Such progressions describe both how students’ under- Use system models (computer or drawings) to construct standing of the idea matures over time and the instruc- molecular-level explanations to predict the behavior of tional supports and experiences that are needed for them systems where a dynamic and condition-dependent bal- to make progress. (NRC, 2012, p. 26) ance between a reaction and the reverse reaction deter- There are two key points that are important to understand: mines the numbers of all types of molecules present. • First, focus and coherence must be a priority. What this means In the first performance expectation, models are used with nuclear to teachers and curriculum developers is that the same ideas processes to explain changes. A scientific explanation requires or details are not covered each year. Rather, a progression of evidence to support the explanation, so students will be called knowledge occurs from grade band to grade band that gives on to construct a model for the purpose of gathering evidence students the opportunity to learn more complex material, to explain these changes. Additionally, they will be required to leading to an overall understanding of science by the end of use models to both explain and predict the behavior of systems high school. Historically, science education was taught as a set in equilibrium. Again, the models will have to be used to collect of disjointed and isolated facts. The Framework and the NGSS data, but they will be further validated in their ability to predict provide a more coherent progression aimed at overall scien- the state of a system. In both cases, students will need a deep tific literacy with instruction focused on a smaller set of ideas understanding of the content, as well as proficiency in the ability and an eye on what students should have already learned and to construct and use models for various applications. The practice what they will learn at the next level. of modeling will need to be taught throughout the year—and • Second, the progressions in the NGSS automatically assume indeed throughout the entire K–12 experience—as opposed to that previous material has been learned by students. Choosing during one two-week unit of instruction. to omit content at any grade level or band will impact the suc- cess of students in understanding the core ideas and will put The goal of the NGSS is to be clear about which practice students additional responsibilities on teachers later in the process. are responsible for in terms of assessment, but these practices and crosscutting concepts should occur throughout each school year. 4. The Next Generation Science Standards focus on deeper under- standing of content as well as application of content. 3. The science concepts in the Next Generation Science Standards build coherently from K–12. The Framework identified a smaller set of Disciplinary Core Ideas that students should know by the time they graduate from high The focus on a few Disciplinary Core Ideas is a key aspect of a school, and the NGSS are written to focus on the same. It is impor- coherent science education. The Framework identified a basic set tant that teachers and curriculum/assessment developers understand of core ideas that are meant to be understood by the time a stu- that the focus is on the core ideas—not necessarily the facts that are dent completes high school: associated with them. The facts and details are important evidence, To develop a thorough understanding of scientific expla- but not the sole focus of instruction. The Framework states: nations of the world, students need sustained opportuni- The core ideas also can provide an organizational structure ties to work with and develop the underlying ideas and for the acquisition of new knowledge. Understanding the to appreciate those ideas’ interconnections over a period core ideas and engaging in the scientific and engineering of years rather than weeks or months. . . . This sense of practices helps to prepare students for broader under- development has been conceptualized in the idea of standing, and deeper levels of scientific and engineering learning progressions. . . . If mastery of a core idea in a investigation, later on—in high school, college, and science discipline is the ultimate educational destination, beyond. One rationale for organizing content around core then well-designed learning progressions provide a map ideas comes from studies comparing experts and novices in of the routes that can be taken to reach that destination. any field. Experts understand the core principles and 2 NEXT GENERATION SCIENCE STANDARDS
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theoretical constructs of their field, and they use them to From a practical standpoint, the Framework notes that engineering make sense of new information or tackle novel problems. and technology provide opportunities for students to deepen their Novices, in contrast, tend to hold disconnected and even understanding of science by applying their developing scientific contradictory bits of knowledge as isolated facts and knowledge to the solution of practical problems. Both positions struggle to find a way to organize and integrate them. . . . converge on the powerful idea that by integrating technology and The assumption, then, is that helping students learn the engineering into the science curriculum, teachers can empower core ideas through engaging in scientific and engineering their students to use what they learn in their everyday lives. practices will enable them to become less like novices and 6. The Next Generation Science Standards are designed to prepare more like experts. (NRC, 2012, p. 25) students for college, careers, and citizenship. 5. Science and engineering are integrated in the Next Generation There is no doubt that science and science education are central Science Standards from kindergarten through twelfth grade. to the lives of all Americans. Never before has our world been The idea of integrating technology and engineering into science so complex and science knowledge so critical to making sense of standards is not new. Chapters on the nature of technology and it all. When comprehending current events, choosing and using the human-built world were included in Science for All Americans technology, or making informed decisions about one’s health (AAAS, 1989) and Benchmarks for Science Literacy (AAAS, 1993, care, understanding science is key. Science is also at the heart of 2008). Standards for science and technology were included for all the the ability of the United States to continue to innovate, lead, grade spans in the National Science Education Standards (NRC, and create the jobs of the future. All students no matter what 1996). their future education and career path must have a solid K–12 Despite these early efforts, however, engineering and technol- science education in order to be prepared for college, careers, ogy have not received the same level of attention in science cur- and citizenship. ricula, assessments, or the education of new science teachers as 7. The Next Generation Science Standards and Common Core the traditional science disciplines have. A significant difference in State Standards (English Language Arts and Mathematics) are the NGSS is the integration of engineering and technology into aligned. the structure of science education. This integration is achieved by The timing of the release of NGSS comes as most states are imple- raising engineering design to the same level as scientific inquiry in menting the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) in English classroom instruction when teaching science disciplines at all levels Language Arts and Mathematics. This is important to science for a and by giving core ideas of engineering and technology the same variety of reasons. First, there is an opportunity for science to be status as those in other major science disciplines. part of a child’s comprehensive education. The NGSS are aligned The rationale for this increased emphasis on engineering and with the CCSS to ensure a symbiotic pace of learning in all con- technology rests on two positions taken in the Framework. One tent areas. The three sets of standards overlap in meaningful and position is aspirational, the other practical. substantive ways and offer an opportunity to give all students From an aspirational standpoint, the Framework points out that equitable access to learning standards. science and engineering are needed to address major world chal- Some important work is already in progress regarding the implica- lenges such as generating sufficient clean energy, preventing and tions and advantages to the CCSS and NGSS. Stanford University treating diseases, maintaining supplies of food and clean water, recently released 13 papers on a variety of issues related to lan- and solving the problems of global environmental change that guage and literacy in the content areas of the CCSS and NGSS confront society today. These important challenges will motivate (Stanford University, 2012). many students to continue or initiate their study of science and engineering. Conceptual Shifts in the Next Generation Science Standards 3
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REFERENCES AAAS (American Association for the Advancement of Science) (1989). Science for all Americans. New York: Oxford University Press. AAAS. (1993, 2008). Benchmarks for science literacy. New York: Oxford University Press. NRC (National Research Council). (1996). National science education standards. Washington, DC: National Academy Press. NRC. (2012). A framework for K–12 science education: Practices, cross- cutting concepts, and core ideas. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. Stanford University. (2012). Understanding language. Available at: http://ell.stanford.edu/papers. 4 NEXT GENERATION SCIENCE STANDARDS