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Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2012. A Framework for K-12 Science Education: Practices, Crosscutting Concepts, and Core Ideas. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/13165.
×

A FRAMEWORK FOR
K-12 SCIENCE EDUCATION

Practices, Crosscutting Concepts, and Core Ideas

Committee on a Conceptual Framework for New K-12 Science Education Standards


Board on Science Education

Division of Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education

NATIONAL RESEARCH COUNCIL
         OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES

THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES PRESS
Washington, D.C.
www.nap.edu

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2012. A Framework for K-12 Science Education: Practices, Crosscutting Concepts, and Core Ideas. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/13165.
×

THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES PRESS       500 Fifth Street, NW       Washington, DC       20001

NOTICE: The project that is the subject of this report was approved by the Governing Board of the National Research Council, whose members are drawn from the councils of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine. The members of the committee responsible for the report were chosen for their special competences and with regard for appropriate balance.

This study was supported by grant numbers D09121.R01 and D09121.R02 between the National Academy of Sciences and the Carnegie Corporation of New York. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Carnegie Corporation of New York.

International Standard Book Number-13: 978-0-309-21742-2

International Standard Book Number-10: 0-309-21742-3

Additional copies of this report are available from the National Academies Press, 500 Fifth Street, N.W., Lockbox 285, Washington, DC 20055; (800) 624-6242 or (202) 334-3313 (in the Washington metropolitan area); Internet, http://www.nap.edu.

Copyright 2012 by the National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.

Printed in the United States of America

Suggested citation: National Research Council. (2012). A Framework for K-12 Science Education: Practices, Crosscutting Concepts, and Core Ideas. Committee on a Conceptual Framework for New K-12 Science Education Standards. Board on Science Education, Division of Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press.

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2012. A Framework for K-12 Science Education: Practices, Crosscutting Concepts, and Core Ideas. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/13165.
×

THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES

Advisers to the Nation on Science, Enginnering and Medicine

The National Academy of Sciences is a private, nonprofit, self-perpetuating society of distinguished scholars engaged in scientific and engineering research, dedicated to the furtherance of science and technology and to their use for the general welfare. Upon the authority of the charter granted to it by the Congress in 1863, the Academy has a mandate that requires it to advise the federal government on scientific and technical matters. Dr. Ralph J. Cicerone is president of the National Academy of Sciences.

The National Academy of Engineering was established in 1964, under the charter of the National Academy of Sciences, as a parallel organization of outstanding engineers. It is autonomous in its administration and in the selection of its members, sharing with the National Academy of Sciences the responsibility for advising the federal government. The National Academy of Engineering also sponsors engineering programs aimed at meeting national needs, encourages education and research, and recognizes the superior achievements of engineers. Dr. Charles M. Vest is president of the National Academy of Engineering.

The Institute of Medicine was established in 1970 by the National Academy of Sciences to secure the services of eminent members of appropriate professions in the examination of policy matters pertaining to the health of the public. The Institute acts under the responsibility given to the National Academy of Sciences by its congressional charter to be an adviser to the federal government and, upon its own initiative, to identify issues of medical care, research, and education. Dr. Harvey V. Fineberg is president of the Institute of Medicine.

The National Research Council was organized by the National Academy of Sciences in 1916 to associate the broad community of science and technology with the Academy’s purposes of furthering knowledge and advising the federal government. Functioning in accordance with general policies determined by the Academy, the Council has become the principal operating agency of both the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering in providing services to the government, the public, and the scientific and engineering communities. The Council is administered jointly by both Academies and the Institute of Medicine. Dr. Ralph J. Cicerone and Dr. Charles M. Vest are chair and vice chair, respectively, of the National Research Council.

www.national-academies.org

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2012. A Framework for K-12 Science Education: Practices, Crosscutting Concepts, and Core Ideas. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/13165.
×

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Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2012. A Framework for K-12 Science Education: Practices, Crosscutting Concepts, and Core Ideas. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/13165.
×

COMMITTEE ON A CONCEPTUAL FRAMEWORK FOR NEW K-12 SCIENCE EDUCATION STANDARDS

HELEN R. QUINN (Chair), Stanford Linear Accelerator Center, Stanford University

WYATT W. ANDERSON, Department of Genetics, University of Georgia, Athens

TANYA ATWATER, Department of Earth Science, University of California, Santa Barbara

PHILIP BELL, Learning Sciences, University of Washington, Seattle

THOMAS B. CORCORAN, Teachers College, Columbia University

RODOLFO DIRZO, Department of Biology, Stanford University

PHILLIP A. GRIFFITHS, Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton, New Jersey

DUDLEY R. HERSCHBACH, Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology, Harvard University

LINDA P.B. KATEHI, Office of the Chancellor, University of California, Davis

JOHN C. MATHER, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Maryland

BRETT D. MOULDING, Utah Partnership for Effective Science Teaching and Learning, Ogden

JONATHAN OSBORNE, School of Education, Stanford University

JAMES W. PELLEGRINO, Department of Psychology and Learning Sciences Research Institute, University of Illinois at Chicago

STEPHEN L. PRUITT, Office of the State Superintendent of Schools, Georgia Department of Education (until June 2010)

BRIAN REISER, School of Education and Social Policy, Northwestern University

REBECCA R. RICHARDS-KORTUM, Department of Bioengineering, Rice University

WALTER G. SECADA, School of Education, University of Miami

DEBORAH C. SMITH, Department of Curriculum and Instruction, Pennsylvania State University

HEIDI A. SCHWEINGRUBER, Study Co-director

THOMAS E. KELLER, Study Co-director

MICHAEL A. FEDER, Senior Program Officer (until February 2011)

MARTIN STORKSDIECK, Board Director

KELLY A. DUNCAN, Senior Program Assistant (until October 2010)

REBECCA KRONE, Program Associate

STEVEN MARCUS, Editorial Consultant

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2012. A Framework for K-12 Science Education: Practices, Crosscutting Concepts, and Core Ideas. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/13165.
×

BOARD ON SCIENCE EDUCATION

HELEN R. QUINN (Chair), Stanford Linear Accelerator Center, Stanford University

PHILIP BELL, Learning Sciences, University of Washington, Seattle

GEORGE BOGGS, American Association of Community Colleges (retired), Washington, DC

WILLIAM B. BONVILLIAN, Washington, DC, Office, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

JOSEPH FRANCISCO, Department of Chemistry, Purdue University

ADAM GAMORAN, Center for Education Research, University of Wisconsin–Madison

JERRY P. GOLLUB, Natural Sciences and Physics Departments, Haverford College

MARGARET A. HONEY, New York Hall of Science, New York

JANET HUSTLER, Partnership for Student Success in Science (PS3), Synopsys, Inc., Mountain View, California

SUSAN KIEFFER, Department of Geology, University of Illinois, Urbana

BRETT D. MOULDING, Utah Partnership for Effective Science Teaching and Learning, Ogden

CARLO PARRAVANO, Merck Institute for Science Education, Rahway, New Jersey

SUSAN R. SINGER, Department of Biology, Carleton College

WILLIAM B. WOOD, Department of Cellular and Developmental Biology, University of Colorado, Boulder

MARTIN STORKSDIECK, Director

HEIDI A. SCHWEINGRUBER, Deputy Director

MICHAEL A. FEDER, Senior Program Officer (until February 2011)

MARGARET L. HILTON, Senior Program Officer

THOMAS E. KELLER, Senior Program Officer

NATALIE NIELSEN, Senior Program Officer

SHERRIE FORREST, Associate Program Officer

REBECCA KRONE, Program Associate

ANTHONY BROWN, Senior Program Assistant

KELLY DUNCAN, Senior Program Assistant (until October 2010)

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2012. A Framework for K-12 Science Education: Practices, Crosscutting Concepts, and Core Ideas. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/13165.
×

FOREWORD

A Framework for K-12 Science Education represents the first step in a process to create new standards in K-12 science education. This project capitalizes on a major opportunity that exists at this moment—a large number of states are adopting common standards in mathematics and English/language arts and thus are poised to consider adoption of common standards in K-12 science education. The impetus for this project grew from the recognition that, although the existing national documents on science content for grades K-12 (developed in the early to mid-1990s) were an important step in strengthening science education, there is much room for improvement. Not only has science progressed, but the education community has learned important lessons from 10 years of implementing standards-based education, and there is a new and growing body of research on learning and teaching in science that can inform a revision of the standards and revitalize science education.

In this context, the Carnegie Corporation of New York, together with the Institute for Advanced Study, established a commission that issued a report entitled The Opportunity Equation, calling for a common set of standards in science to be developed. The Carnegie Corporation has taken a leadership role to ensure that the development of common science standards proceeds and is of the highest quality by funding a two-step process: first, the development of this framework by the National Research Council (NRC) and, second, the development of a next generation of science standards based on the framework led by Achieve, Inc. We are grateful for the financial support of the Carnegie Corporation for this project

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2012. A Framework for K-12 Science Education: Practices, Crosscutting Concepts, and Core Ideas. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/13165.
×

and for their vision in establishing the partnership and two-step process for developing the new standards. This framework builds on the strong foundation of previous studies that sought to identify and describe the major ideas for K-12 science education. These include Science for All Americans and Benchmarks for Science Literacy (1993), developed by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), and the National Science Education Standards (1996), developed by the NRC. The framework is also informed by more recent work of two of our partner organizations: the AAAS (in Project 2061 especially) and the National Science Teachers Association (particularly the 2009 Anchors project). Achieve, Inc., our third partner is this endeavor, will lead the development of next-generation standards for science education based on the framework presented in this report with the aspiration that many states will choose to adopt them. We look forward to working with these organizations in the dissemination and implementation of the vision of science and engineering education that the framework embodies.

The framework highlights the power of integrating understanding the ideas of science with engagement in the practices of science and is designed to build students’ proficiency and appreciation for science over multiple years of school. Of particular note is the prominent place given to the ideas and practices of engineering.

As presidents of the National Academy of Sciences and National Academy of Engineering, we are pleased to convey this report to interested readers. We believe that the education of the children of this nation is a vital national concern. The understanding of, and interest in, science and engineering that its citizens bring to bear in their personal and civic decision making is critical to good decisions about the nation’s future. The percentage of students who are motivated by their school and out-of-school experiences to pursue careers in these fields is currently too low for the nation’s needs. Moreover, an ever-larger number of jobs require skills in these areas, along with those in language arts and mathematics.

We thank the committee and the many consultants and NRC staff members who contributed to this effort, as well as the thousands who took the time to comment on the draft that was made public in July 2010. That input contributed substantially to the quality of this final report.

Ralph J. Cicerone, President, National Academy of Sciences Charles M. Vest, President, National Academy of Engineering

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2012. A Framework for K-12 Science Education: Practices, Crosscutting Concepts, and Core Ideas. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/13165.
×

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

Together with the rest of the committee, I thank the many individuals and organizations who assisted us in our work, without whom this study could not have been completed. We begin by acknowledging the generous support of the Carnegie Corporation of New York, and particularly Andrés Henriquez, for his attention to and patience with this project.

Next we recognize the importance of the partnership we developed with Achieve, Inc., the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and the National Science Teachers Association, and we are pleased to be continuing this partnership. Each organization brought its unique perspective to our many partner meetings, which led to a stronger report and better communication with the myriad communities with an interest in K-12 science education. Each of these partners has an important role to play as the implementation of ideas in the framework develops.

This report would not have been possible without the work of many individuals, teams, and organizations, and we hope we acknowledge them all here. The four design teams (listed in Appendix D) were critical in the development of the framework and providing the committee with insightful and creative models for organizing the core ideas. We are deeply indebted to them and especially to the four team leaders: Rodger Bybee, Joseph Krajcik, Cary Sneider, and Michael Wysession. These team leaders worked closely with the committee until the final stages of the project, tirelessly revising drafts of their work, discussing the research, debating possible approaches, and consistently going above and beyond their initial commitments. The work would have been impossible without them.

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2012. A Framework for K-12 Science Education: Practices, Crosscutting Concepts, and Core Ideas. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/13165.
×

The committee also called on many individual experts in a variety of capacities. Some served as presenters, others provided detailed reviews of the draft framework released in July 2010, still others worked closely with groups of committee members to refine portions of the report, and a select few filled all three roles. We acknowledge Valerie Akerson, Indiana University; Charles “Andy” Anderson, Michigan State University; Angela Calabrese Barton, Michigan State University; Anita Bernhardt, Department of Education, Maine; Nancy Brickhouse, University of Delaware; Ravit Golan Duncan, Rutgers University; Daniel Edelson, National Geographic Society; Jacob Foster, Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education; Adam Gamoran, University of Wisconsin–Madison; David Hammer, University of Maryland, College Park; David Heil, David Heil & Associates; Leslie Herrenkohl, University of Washington; Frank Keil, Yale University; Rich Lehrer, Vanderbilt University; Kathy Metz, University of California, Berkeley; Jacqueline Miller, Education Development Center; Alberto Rodriguez, San Diego State University; Aaron Rogat, Columbia University; Jo Ellen Roseman, American Association for the Advancement of Science; Leona Schauble, Vanderbilt University; Eugenie Scott, National Center for Science Education; Susan Singer, Carleton College; Jean Slattery, Achieve, Inc.; Carol Smith, University of Massachusetts at Boston; Maria Varelas, University of Illinois at Chicago; Beth Warren, TERC; Iris Weiss, Horizon Research, Inc.; and Marianne Wiser, Clark University.

The committee also benefited from the extensive feedback on the draft released during the public comment period in summer 2010. We thank the large number of individuals who sent thoughtful comments as well as the many stakeholder groups and their leaders who were generous in recording and sending us discussion group feedback (see Appendix A). The committee found this feedback invaluable in revising the report, and we think it has greatly improved the quality of the final document.

We are also deeply grateful to the many individuals at the National Research Council (NRC) who assisted the committee. The success of a large project such as the framework involves the efforts of countless staff members who work behind the scenes. We acknowledge the support and commitment of the project co-directors, Heidi Schweingruber, whose dedication to this work was demonstrated time and again at every stage of the work, and Tom Keller, who likewise played many critical roles in the process. We are grateful for the extensive, thoughtful, and cheerfully supportive work of additional staff of the Board on Science Education (BOSE) who rose to the urgency of the task time and time again—Kelly

Page xiii Cite
Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2012. A Framework for K-12 Science Education: Practices, Crosscutting Concepts, and Core Ideas. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/13165.
×

Duncan, Rebecca Krone, Michael Feder, Natalie Nielsen, Sherrie Forrest, Mengfei Huang (a Mirzyan fellow with BOSE), and Martin Storksdieck. Matthew Von Hendy provided valuable research assistance.

We also thank Kirsten Sampson Snyder, who shepherded the report through the NRC review process; Christine McShane, who edited the draft report; and Yvonne Wise for processing the report through final production. We were also aided by the editorial skills of Steve Marcus; the work of the staff of the National Academies Press, including Virginia Bryant, Rachel Marcus, and Stephen Mautner; and Doug Sprunger in the DBASSE communications office. We owe a special debt of thanks to Sara Frueh, who worked closely with project staff on communications and press issues and attended many meetings of the four partners to discuss communication and dissemination strategy.

Prior to the public comment period, the draft underwent a condensed version of an NRC internal review. We thank the following individuals for their review of the draft report: Richard A. Duschl, College of Education, Pennsylvania State University; W.G. Ernst, Department of Geological and Environmental Sciences, Stanford University; Kim A. Kastens, Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, Columbia University; and Elizabeth K. Stage, Lawrence Hall of Science, University of California, Berkeley. The initial review was overseen by Lauress (Laurie) L. Wise, Human Resources Research Organization (HumRRO), Monterey, CA; and Jerry P. Gollub, Physics Department, Haverford College.

A revised draft of this report was reviewed by individuals chosen for their diverse perspective and technical expertise, in accordance with procedures approved by the NRC’s Report Review Committee. The purpose of this independent review is to provide candid and critical comments that will assist the institution in making its published report as sound as possible and to ensure that the report meets institutional standards for objectivity, evidence, and responsiveness to the study charge. The review comments and draft manuscript remain confidential to protect the integrity of the deliberative process.

We thank the following individuals for their review of this report: Cristina Amon, dean, Faculty of Applied Science and Engineering, alumni chair professor of bioengineering, Department of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering, University of Toronto; William B. Bridges, Carl F. Braun professor of engineering, emeritus, California Institute of Technology; Marye Anne Fox, chancellor, Office of the Chancellor, University of California, San Diego; Kenji Hakuta, School of Education, Stanford University; John M. Hayes, scientist emeritus, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution; John R. Jungck, Department of Biology,

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2012. A Framework for K-12 Science Education: Practices, Crosscutting Concepts, and Core Ideas. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/13165.
×

Beloit College; Ron Latanision, corporate vice president, Exponent, Natick, MA; Richard Lehrer, Department of Teaching and Learning, Peabody College of Vanderbilt University; Michael E. Martinez, Department of Education, University of California, Irvine; Jennifer O’Day, principal research scientist, Education Program, American Institutes for Research, Sacramento, CA; Carlo Parravano, executive director, Merck Institute for Science Education, Rahway, NJ; R. Bruce Partridge, Department of Astronomy, Haverford College; Roy D. Pea, School of Education, Stanford University; Jana Rowland, science education director, Office of Standards and Curriculum, Oklahoma State Department of Education; Philip Rubin, chief executive officer, Haskins Laboratories, New Haven, CT; Wilfried Schmid, Mathematics Department, Harvard University; H. Eugene Stanley, university professor, and professor of physics, chemistry, physiology, and biomedical engineering, Department of Physics, Boston University; Suzanne M. Wilson, chair, Department of Teacher Education, Michigan State University; William B. Wood, distinguished professor, emeritus, Department of Biology, University of Colorado, Boulder; Yu Xie, Otis Dudley Duncan distinguished university professor of sociology, Population Studies Center, University of Michigan; and Clarice M. Yentsch, adjunct research scientist, Oceanographic Center, Nova Southeastern University.

Although the reviewers listed above have provided constructive comments and suggestions, they are not asked to endorse the conclusions or recommendations, nor did they see the final draft of the report before its release. Lorraine McDonnell and Jerry P. Gollub oversaw the review of this report. Appointed by the NRC, they were responsible for making certain that an independent examination of this report was carried out in accordance with institutional procedures and that all review comments were carefully considered. Responsibility for the final content of this report rests entirely with the authoring committee and the institution.

Finally, I would like to add my personal thanks, in particular to Heidi Schweingruber, without whose wise advice and support I could not have done my part of the job, and to my colleagues on the committee for their enthusiasm, hard work, and collaborative spirit in writing this report. They attended six meetings of two or more days in length, freely provided their comments, engaged in spirited discussion, read and commented on numerous drafts, and worked at a furious pace.

Helen R. Quinn, Chair
Committee on a Conceptual Framework for New K-12 Science Education Standards

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2012. A Framework for K-12 Science Education: Practices, Crosscutting Concepts, and Core Ideas. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/13165.
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Page viii Cite
Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2012. A Framework for K-12 Science Education: Practices, Crosscutting Concepts, and Core Ideas. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/13165.
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Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2012. A Framework for K-12 Science Education: Practices, Crosscutting Concepts, and Core Ideas. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/13165.
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Page xiii Cite
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Science, engineering, and technology permeate nearly every facet of modern life and hold the key to solving many of humanity's most pressing current and future challenges. The United States' position in the global economy is declining, in part because U.S. workers lack fundamental knowledge in these fields. To address the critical issues of U.S. competitiveness and to better prepare the workforce, A Framework for K-12 Science Education proposes a new approach to K-12 science education that will capture students' interest and provide them with the necessary foundational knowledge in the field.

A Framework for K-12 Science Education outlines a broad set of expectations for students in science and engineering in grades K-12. These expectations will inform the development of new standards for K-12 science education and, subsequently, revisions to curriculum, instruction, assessment, and professional development for educators. This book identifies three dimensions that convey the core ideas and practices around which science and engineering education in these grades should be built. These three dimensions are: crosscutting concepts that unify the study of science through their common application across science and engineering; scientific and engineering practices; and disciplinary core ideas in the physical sciences, life sciences, and earth and space sciences and for engineering, technology, and the applications of science. The overarching goal is for all high school graduates to have sufficient knowledge of science and engineering to engage in public discussions on science-related issues, be careful consumers of scientific and technical information, and enter the careers of their choice.

A Framework for K-12 Science Education is the first step in a process that can inform state-level decisions and achieve a research-grounded basis for improving science instruction and learning across the country. The book will guide standards developers, teachers, curriculum designers, assessment developers, state and district science administrators, and educators who teach science in informal environments.

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