The committee recognized early in the process that obtaining feedback from a broad range of stakeholders and experts would be crucial to the framework’s success. For this reason, we secured permission from the National Research Council (NRC) to release a draft version of the framework for public comment. The draft underwent an expedited NRC review in early July 2010 and was posted online on July 12 for a 3-week period.
This draft did not include all of the chapters intended for the final volume, although it did thoroughly address all three dimensions of the framework: crosscutting concepts, disciplinary core ideas, and scientific and engineering practices. Individuals could submit comments through an online survey. In addition, NRC staff contacted over 40 organizations in science, engineering, and education to notify them of the public comment period; they were asked to hold focus groups for gathering feedback from their members or to notify members of the opportunity to comment online. Notably, the NRC worked closely with the National Science Teachers Association, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, Achieve, Inc., and the Council of State Science Supervisors to facilitate the public input process. Finally, the committee asked a number of disciplinary experts to provide detailed feedback on the draft from their own particular perspectives.
During the 3-week public comment period, the committee received extensive input from both individuals and groups. Overall, more than 2,000 people responded to the online survey. Over 30 focus groups were held around the country by 24 organizations, with a total of over 400 participants. The committee also received letters from key individuals and organizations. Lists of the organizations
that participated in the focus groups and those that submitted letters are provided at the end of this summary.
NRC staff and the committee chair reviewed this input, developed summaries identifying the major issues raised, and outlined possible revisions. Committee members then evaluated these summaries and potential revisions, and they had the opportunity to examine the public feedback in detail. After discussions at its fifth and sixth meetings, the committee made substantial revisions to the framework based on the feedback.
We summarize this feedback below and describe the revisions that were made in response. In cases in which the committee chose not to revise or to make only a limited revision, we explain why this choice was made. We organize the discussion into two sections: overarching issues, which pertain to the draft framework as a whole, and issues relating specifically to any of the framework’s three dimensions or its learning progressions.
In general, the feedback about the draft framework indicated support for the overall approach. In the online surveys, many individuals commented that they were impressed with the document and thought it provided a good next step toward refining standards for K-12 science education. At the same time, there were many critiques and suggestions for how to improve it. In looking across all of the modes of gathering feedback, some key overarching issues emerged:
• concerns about the purpose, audience, and voice;
• suggestions of additional fields or topics to include;
• how best to incorporate and describe ideas in engineering and technology;
• concerns that there was too much material;
• lack of guidance or examples about how to convey the integration of crosscutting concepts, core ideas, and practices;
• insufficient indication of connections to other topics or issues, such as mathematics and literacy;
• need for a stronger statement about science for all and insufficient attention to diversity and equity;
• lack of “standards” for curriculum, programs, assessment, and professional development similar to those that were included in the National Science Education Standards ; and • lack of attention to the challenges inherent in implementing the framework.
Purpose, Audience, and Voice
The feedback suggested some confusion about the purpose of the document and the intended audience. Several focus groups suggested that a coherent vision across the document was lacking. Some individuals thought Chapter 1 provided a good summary of key principles, and others thought the vision was too diffuse. Across all of the modes of response and across all kinds of individuals, people commented that the promise of the first chapter was not consistently delivered in the rest of the document. Some commenters said explicitly that the framework had gone too far toward standards. Others said that the document would be difficult for teachers to use.
Several comments from individuals and summaries from focus groups called for more discussion of the goals of science education and a stronger argument in the first chapter for why science education is important. There was confusion about whether the document was outlining goals for all students or only for college-bound students.
Commenters were divided on the tone of the document and its quality of writing. Some thought it was well written; others thought it needed to be entirely rewritten in more accessible language.
The committee made several revisions aimed at giving the framework greater focus, clarifying its goals and audience(s), and eliminating differences in tone and writing style. We reframed the introductory chapter, incorporated an argument for the importance of science education, provided a concise discussion of the goals for science education for all students, and added an explicit vision statement. Also, we shifted material that described the theoretical and empirically based assumptions guiding the framework to a second chapter.
To enable readers to identify the major tasks for standards developers in translating the framework into standards, we added Chapter 12: Guidance for Standards Developers. In that chapter, the committee presents a set of 13 recommendations that lay out the steps that standards developers should take and the considerations they need to keep in mind as they translate the framework into standards. Finally, the report was edited extensively to achieve a more uniform style and voice for improved readability.
Suggestions of Fields or Topics to Be Included
Several stakeholder groups voiced strong concerns that content relevant to their disciplines was either underrepresented or left out entirely. The strongest concerns were voiced by organizations and individuals affiliated with the behavioral and social sciences, computer sciences, and ocean sciences. Each of these communities mounted some kind of formal response, including letters from professional societies and campaigns to encourage their membership to respond to the online survey. There also was mention of health, but this involved a less organized response.
Behavioral and Social Sciences. The behavioral and social sciences community made a very strong request for inclusion in the framework. Community members wanted to see these fields acknowledged throughout the document as legitimate elements of the overall scientific enterprise. They also wanted to see a separate set of core ideas developed for the behavioral and social sciences and included in the framework. They pointed out that courses related to the behavioral and social sciences are already included at the secondary level (e. g., Advanced Placement psychology). Acknowledging that developing a separate set of core ideas would take time, they asked that the framework’s project time line be extended accordingly. They also noted many places where the social sciences could inform issues that were raised, particularly in discussions related to science, technology, and society.
Computer Science. We received a similar request for inclusion from the computer science community. Some of its members noted that computing and computational thinking are now an integral part of science and therefore constitute essential knowledge and practices for students who might pursue careers in science or engineering. They pointed out that computer science and programming courses are already part of the K-12 curriculum, although they are not usually identified as part of the science curriculum.
Ocean Science. This community pointed to the framework’s lack of specific attention to the ocean, it suggested a greater focus on earth systems than was captured in the draft, and it offered very concrete and detailed suggestions for revisions. The community developed some standard wording for members to use in filling out the survey. For example, there was an argument for greater inclusion of ocean sciences in the earth and space sciences section.
Nature of Science. Many of those who provided comments thought that the “nature of science” needed to be made an explicit topic or idea. They noted that it would not emerge simply through engaging with practices.
Behavioral and Social Sciences. The committee considers the behavioral and social sciences to be part of science, but for a number of reasons we think it inappropriate at this time to include them as a separate disciplinary area with its own set of core ideas. The primary reason is that these subjects are not currently part of what is considered the K-12 science curriculum. To include them here would speak to a major reorganization of K-12 schooling, which would go far beyond the committee’s charge and, indeed, the professional expertise of the committee. In grades K-8, topics related to the behavioral and social sciences are typically covered in social studies, although they are not necessarily taught from a scientific perspective. At the secondary level, there are courses that do teach behavioral and social sciences topics from a scientific perspective—for example, Advanced Placement psychology. However, the framework as currently structured does not prevent these courses from being taught. In fact, the committee considers them appropriate science courses for extending and enriching the foundational science education described in the framework.
The secondary reason is that the committee has a responsibility to meet its charge and to maintain as closely as possible the intended time line of its work in order to inform the science standards development efforts of Achieve, Inc. Undertaking the task of identifying and articulating the core ideas in the behavioral and social sciences would be impossible within the available time and budget constraints. In the committee’s judgment, this is a task for another group.
Although the committee did not think it was appropriate to include the behavioral and social sciences as a separate discipline, we did make efforts to discuss them explicitly throughout the document and particularly to identify places where they intersect with the framework’s three dimensions. More specifically, the following changes were made in response to this input:
• In the Introduction, we acknowledge that the behavioral and social sciences are part of science and that they are not broadly represented in this framework.
• We revised language throughout the report to note the role of behavioral and social sciences expertise for addressing such issues as the connections among science, technology, and society.
• We included some behavioral and social sciences examples in the descriptions of science and in the chapters on crosscutting concepts and scientific and engineering practices.
• We added more emphasis on behavior and psychology, especially cognitive science, in the life sciences chapter, including a component idea on information processing under LS1 and a component idea on social interactions and group behavior under LS2.
Computer Science. In considering whether and how to include topics related to computer science, the committee noted that such concepts are more typically included under mathematics; we acknowledge, however, that the mathematics common core does not include such topics as algorithms or algorithmic approaches to computation and includes very little about the use of computational tools.
Although the committee determined that it was not appropriate to include computer science in the framework as a separate discipline with its own set of core ideas, in the revisions of the draft we made an effort to stress the importance both of computational thinking and of the use of computers as scientific tools, particularly in Chapter 3: Scientific and Engineering Practices. One of the eight major practices is labeled “Using Mathematics, Information and Computer Technology, and Computational Thinking,” and the chapter stresses the importance of the application of these skills throughout science learning. The chapter also includes more emphasis on computers as tools for modeling, data collection and recording, and data analysis.
Although the framework does not include material usually covered by courses under the title “computer science,” we stress that this choice in no way diminishes the importance either of general computer literacy for all students or of options for advanced computer science courses at the high school level.
Ocean Science. The earth and space sciences core ideas and grade band endpoints were revised to include more attention to the ocean whenever possible and to shift to more of a focus on earth systems.
Nature of Science. The committee added a section to the end of Chapter 4 to emphasize the need to reflect on scientific and engineering practices as a means to deepen students’ understanding of the nature of science.
Inclusion of Engineering and Technology
The inclusion of engineering and technology and their own set of core ideas generated a substantial amount of feedback. Many indicated that they were pleased to see engineering and technology given an explicit place in K-12 science education.
However, there were numerous concerns, including the amount of space devoted to engineering and technology, the kinds of core ideas included, and the capacity of the K-12 science education system to get these areas right. Some individuals commented that including engineering and technology could present a problem: given that a goal of the framework is to cut the amount of material to be covered in K-12 science, it would be ironic if such inclusion expanded the amount of material considerably.
One key issue that appeared frequently in the comments was whether engineering and technology were well defined in the framework. This suggested the need to be more explicit about how engineering and technology are related to each other and to the natural sciences. Thoughtful advice from the experts we consulted was that some of the engineering and technology ideas incorporated elements that would be more appropriately placed in practices.
A letter to the committee from the International Technology and Engineering Educators Association raised a number of issues related to including engineering and technology in the science framework. The association argued that science teachers might not have sufficient background to teach the new material and, moreover, that there is currently no agreement in the field about what the core ideas in engineering and technology should be. The letter also pointed out that a corps of technology teachers at the secondary level already exists.
A related issue among respondents was treatment of the applications of science (such as medicine, public health, and agriculture) and their links to engineering and technology. Some individuals suggested that this topic needed more attention in the draft framework. Experts we asked to review the draft also pointed out that discussion of applications of science was mostly absent there.
The committee deliberated extensively on the best way to respond to these concerns and chose to make significant revisions. We trimmed the material included under engineering and technology and focused on design as one of the major elements of engineering. We did this because design is the one core idea of engineering around which there appears to be consensus . There also is evidence that engaging in design activities can enhance students’ understanding of science .
Elements of design are now represented in Chapter 3: Scientific and Engineering Practices and also under the first core idea in Chapter 8: Engineering, Technology, and Applications of Science. The second core idea, which stresses the connections among engineering, technology, science, and
society, discusses applications of science as well. Definitions of engineering, technology, and applications of science and of the relationships among them are clearly stated. These definitions then inform how engineering and technology are treated throughout the framework.
Too Much Material
Many individuals and organizations indicated that the draft framework still contained too much material, and some thought that the committee had not succeeded in making any reduction compared with previous documents. There were particular concerns not only about the amount of the material but also about its difficulty for the earlier grades. People also expressed trepidation that the learning progressions in the draft contained too many discrete and disconnected notions and that some were not central to the core idea being developed.
The committee was particularly concerned with this feedback and in response made significant revisions to the core ideas and progressions. We revised the structure and content of the core ideas in all of the disciplines and replaced detailed progressions with grade band endpoints for grades 2, 5, 8, and 12. When necessary we consulted experts in teaching and learning science to supplement the committee’s expertise. For example, six experts on learning science in grades K-5 provided detailed input regarding what ideas were appropriate for those levels and in which grade. As a result, some core ideas or component ideas begin their progression only at the 3-5 grade band to allow necessary prior knowledge of other core ideas to be established.
Overall, the committee thinks that the framework’s content is now contained in a more suitable structure—one that provides guidance to standards developers rather than extremely detailed sets of discrete content statements.
How to Integrate the Three Dimensions
There were many concerns that too little guidance was given about how to integrate the crosscutting concepts, disciplinary core ideas, and scientific and engineering practices. In particular it was deemed that the learning progressions in the draft framework did not integrate the three dimensions at all, focusing solely on the progression for the core ideas.
The presentation of the crosscutting concepts and the practices in separate chapters led some to ask whether there would be separate standards for the
crosscutting concepts and for the practices. Some pointed out that, without guidance about integration, the crosscutting concepts might be omitted entirely or be taught as a set of separate ideas.
The committee was charged with identifying the disciplinary core ideas and practices for K-12 science education and with providing examples of the integration of these ideas and practices. One of the major tasks of the standards developers will be to determine ways to integrate the dimensions at the level of standards and performance expectations; we anticipate that full integration of the dimensions will occur at the level of curriculum and instruction.
In attending to the framework itself, we expanded Chapter 9: Integrating the Three Dimensions, which in the draft included only examples of performance expectations; for example, we added an example of how the dimensions might be brought together in curriculum and instruction. We also created a chapter on implementation issues (Chapter 10) that spelled out the need for curricula and instruction that integrate the three dimensions. Finally, in Chapter 12: Guidance for Standards Developers, we explicitly recommended that standards should incorporate the three dimensions in both their content statements and performance expectations.
Strengthening Connections to Other Subjects
Many people wanted to see more connections made to mathematics and literacy, some asked for explicit connections to the Common Core Standards, and some wanted to see more indications of the links between the core ideas and other disciplines.
We added explicit reference to other subject areas in multiple places. In the chapter on scientific and engineering practices, we included two practices that specifically link to mathematics and literacy: “Using Mathematics, Information and Computer Technology, and Computational Thinking” and “Obtaining, Communicating, and Presenting Information.” In discussions of these practices, we called out the need to parallel the Common Core Standards. We also included a recommendation for standards developers that the science standards be consistent with the mathematics and English/language arts Common Core Standards. In
Chapter 8: Engineering, Technology, and Applications of Science, and elsewhere as appropriate, we have stressed linkages to social studies.
Science for All, Diversity, and Equity
Many readers thought it was unclear whether this document was intended to prepare future scientists or to acquaint all students with science. Many also commented on a lack of clear statements about diversity and equity.
In the introductory chapter, we clarified the vision for the framework and its emphasis on science for all students. We added Chapter 11: Equity and Diversity in Science and Engineering Education. This chapter had already been planned, but it was not ready in time for the draft released in July 2010.
Implementation: Curriculum, Instruction, Teacher Development, and Assessment
Many educators raised concerns about the challenges to implementing the framework—especially the demands it would place on curriculum developers, providers of professional development, and others. In some cases, commenters suggested that it would be useful to include the kinds of standards related to curriculum, instruction, teacher development, and assessment that were presented in the National Science Education Standards .
The committee already recognized the challenges that the framework will place on K-12 science education. But although we had planned a chapter related to implementation, it was not available for the 2010 draft release. We have since written this chapter, and it is included in the present document as Chapter 10.
ISSUES RELATED TO EACH DIMENSION
Overall, the majority of those who commented were pleased to see discussion of scientific and engineering practices. Some specifically mentioned that it was a positive step to discuss particular practices instead of referring broadly to inquiry. There were varying reactions to the chapter itself. Some felt that there was too much introductory material about the work of scientists and engineers generally
and that this discussion could be cut. Others thought that too many discrete practices with no uniform “grain size” were specified. Some had difficulty understanding how the tables in the chapter that described progressions were to be used in conjunction with the tables outlining the learning progressions for the disciplinary core ideas. Feedback from the individual experts indicated that in several cases the detailed progressions for the practices did not have supporting empirical evidence.
We revised the introductory material in the chapter to make it more focused. We collapsed the practices into a shorter top-level list. We discussed developmental trajectories for each practice but cut the tables and the “levels” of practice that they had introduced. We refined the parallel treatment of scientific and engineering practices and clarified how the goals of work in the two areas differ.
Most of those who provided comments liked the framework’s inclusion of crosscutting concepts. There were some suggestions of particular concepts to cut and of others to add. Many suggested that the section titled “Topics in Science, Engineering, Technology, and Society” did not fit in this dimension and should be integrated elsewhere.
We chose not to delete or add to the crosscutting concepts. We did remove “Topics in Science, Engineering, Technology, and Society” from this chapter and placed the important elements of that material elsewhere (in practices; in the engineering, technology, and applications of science chapter; and in the chapter on implementation under the discussion of curriculum).
Many commenters provided detailed feedback on the core ideas and component ideas in each discipline. Their comments ranged from whether the inclusion of a core or component idea was appropriate, to suggestions for additions, to word-level editorial changes. Expert feedback from individuals and focus groups was particularly helpful in guiding the revisions of these four chapters.
Overall, readers tended to assume that each core idea would be given equal time in curriculum and instruction, leading to the impression, for example, that
we were advocating that 25 percent of time be devoted to engineering. Although we have reduced the number of core ideas in Chapter 8: Engineering, Technology, and Applications of Science, we also noted that different core ideas will take different amounts of instructional time, both within and across grade levels; thus, the above-cited accounting was not a correct interpretation of the document. We have made appropriate clarifications in the introductory chapter and in the guidance for standards developers.
Physical Sciences. Physicists expressed concern that the content in physics was not articulated clearly, and chemists had a similar concern about the chemistry ideas. These responses suggested confusion about whether the framework is intended to define a full chemistry and physics course at the high school level. The committee’s actual intent is for the framework to outline a foundational set of core ideas and for individual courses in physics or chemistry to deepen or extend the study of these ideas. Input from a group convened by the American Association of Physics Teachers, the American Physical Society, the American Institute of Physics, and the American Chemical Society was particularly useful.
There were some specific critiques of the core ideas on waves and communication technology, with some individuals suggesting that they were inappropriate to include in the physical sciences.
Life Sciences. Aside from a small subset of responders who wanted to eliminate evolution, overall the response to the life sciences core ideas was positive. Critique focused on (a) elements perceived as missing or underemphasized, particularly regarding psychology and behavior, and (b) elements perceived as misplaced in terms of grade-level appropriateness. Our disciplinary experts, who gave thoughtful input based on research on learning, suggested greater stress on the physical, chemical, and molecular bases of biological processes, at least in the higher grades.
Earth and Space Sciences. Several responders indicated that there were too many component ideas in this domain, and they offered concrete suggestions for reducing or streamlining the number of topics. Some individuals thought that the organization of the core and component ideas in the earth and space sciences was less conceptually coherent than in the other disciplines. They expressed concern that the ideas were more like a table of contents for a textbook than a coherent learning progression. Some noted that the level of detail was uneven, both within the earth and space sciences chapter and in comparison to the other science disciplines. Responders offered specific examples of ideas in the learning progressions that seemed developmentally inappropriate—that would require understanding of
concepts from other disciplines or that were actually introduced in later grades. A number of reviewers suggested placing more emphasis on an “earth systems” approach; this suggestion was particularly emphasized by the ocean science community.
Engineering and Technology. The feedback related to these core ideas, together with the committee’s response, is summarized in the previous section (Chapter 3: Scientific and Engineering Practices).
The committee undertook significant revisions of the core and component ideas for all of the disciplines. For the physical sciences and the earth and space sciences, the revisions included reorganization and relabeling of the core and component ideas.
Many concerns were expressed about the draft learning progressions—the sections in Chapters 5-8 now labeled “Grade Band Endpoints.” Several people, including some of the individual experts we asked to comment, objected to the term “learning progressions” for these sequences. They offered a number of reasons for why this term should not be used and made strong cases for changing it.
There was also concern about the level of detail included in the progressions; some felt that they went too far toward becoming standards. There was concern that the progressions were presented as many discrete bits of knowledge, which seemed to promote memorization of facts. Some thought that, for certain component ideas, the connections from grade band to grade band were unclear. And there was concern that the progressions were not clearly based on research; a couple of the experts pointed out places for which research suggests realignment of the content.
A number of criticisms stated that the progressions were not always grade appropriate; some pointed out that material included in the K-5 bands in particular was often too difficult. Others thought that the progressions underestimated what younger students can do. There was general concern that the expectations for the 3-5 and 6-8 grade bands were quite high, given the number of very important, but challenging, ideas that were covered. Finally, there was concern that the progressions focused on the disciplinary core ideas and did not attempt to integrate the crosscutting concepts and scientific and engineering practices in any way.
The committee was especially attentive to the feedback on the learning progressions. The detailed progressions were changed to grade band endpoints, with the number of details significantly reduced. Meanwhile, the introductory discussion of each core idea was expanded into a single coherent statement that reflected the idea’s overall knowledge content.
To address the concerns about grade-level appropriateness, the committee solicited additional comments from six experts in science learning in grades K-5. Based on this feedback and review of the document by committee members with expertise in elementary school science, some core ideas or component ideas were excluded at the K-2 level, with development of these ideas beginning instead in the 3-5 grade band.
ORGANIZATIONS THAT CONVENED DISCUSSION/FOCUS GROUPS
American Association of Physics Teachers, American Physical Society, American Institute of Physics
American Astronomical Society Astronomy Education Board
American Chemical Society
American Geological Institute
American Geophysical Union
American Society of Plant Biologists
Association for Computing Machinery
Association for Science Teacher Education
Climate Literacy Network
Computer Science Teachers Association
Council of Elementary Science International
Council of State Science Supervisors (45 state representatives in 8 groups)
Hands-On Science Partnership
International Technology and Engineering Education Association
Massachusetts Department of Education
Minnesota Department of Education
NASA Science Education and Public Outreach
NASA Science Mission Directorate Education Community
National Association of Biology Teachers
National Association of Geoscience Teachers
National Association of Research in Science Teaching
National Earth Science Teachers Association
National Middle Level Science Teachers Association
National Science Education Leaders Association
National Science Teachers Association (100 people in 4 groups across the country)
New Hampshire Department of Education
North American Association for Environmental Education
Rhode Island Department of Elementary and Secondary Education
University of Colorado at Boulder Biology Educators Group
University of Washington, Seattle
Vermont Department of Education
Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction
1. National Research Council. (1996). National Science Education Standards. National Committee for Science Education Standards and Assessment. Washington, DC: National Academy Press.
2. National Academy of Engineering. (2010). Standards for K-12 Engineering Education? Committee on Standards for K–12 Engineering Education. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press.
3. National Academy of Engineering and National Research Council. (2009). Engineering in K-12 Education: Understanding the Status and Improving the Prospects. Committee on K-12 Engineering Education. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press.
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