The recent movement in K-12 education toward common standards in key subjects represents an unprecedented opportunity for improving learning outcomes for all students. These standards initiatives—the Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts & Literacy in History/Social Studies, Science, and Technical Subjects (National Governors Association Center for Best Practices and Council of Chief State School Officers, 2010a) and Common Core State Standards for Mathematics (National Governors Association Center for Best Practices and Council of Chief State School Officers, 2010b) and the Next Generation Science Standards: For States, By States (NGSS; NGSS Lead States, 2013)—are informed by research on learning and teaching and a decade of standards-based education reform. While the standards in English language arts and science have been developed separately, there are areas where the standards intersect directly. One such area of intersection occurs between the “literacy in science” portions of the Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts (CCSS for ELA)1 and the practices in the NGSS (originally outlined in the National Research Council’s (NRC’s) A Framework for K-12 Science Education ), particularly the practice of “Obtaining, evaluating and communicating information” (Practice 8).2Box 1-1 presents the eight NGSS science and engineering practices.
1For more information about the CCSS for ELA: Science and Technical Subjects, see http://www.corestandards.org/ELA-Literacy/RST/introduction/ [March 2014].
2For the full text of the NGSS Science and Engineering Practices, see Appendix F of the NGSS. Available: http://www.nextgenscience.org/sites/ngss/files/Appendix%20F%20%20Science%20
NGSS SCIENCE AND ENGINEERING PRACTICES
1. Asking questions (for science) and defining problems (for engineering).
2. Developing and using models.
3. Planning and carrying out investigations.
4. Analyzing and interpreting data.
5. Using mathematics and computational thinking.
6. Constructing explanations (for science) and designing solutions (for engineering).
7. Engaging in argument from evidence.
8. Obtaining, evaluating, and communicating information.
SOURCE: National Research Council (2012).
The developers of A Framework for K-12 Science Education (K-12 framework) opted to focus on “practices” in science, which encompass both knowledge and skills because they are essential for helping students develop a deeper understanding of how knowledge in science is formed. Science practices also help to make knowledge of concepts and ideas more meaningful. As stated in the K-12 framework, “Standards and performance expectations that are aligned to the framework must take into account that students cannot fully understand scientific and engineering ideas without engaging in the practices of science and engineering and the discourses by which such ideas are developed and refined” (National Research Council, 2012, p. 218). Overall, the science and engineering practices do not stand alone but are integrated with content across the grades.
and%20Engineering%20Practices%20in%20the%20NGSS%20-%20FINAL%20060513.pdf [July 2014].
The development of the NGSS, which built upon the K-12 framework, provided further insight into how these science and engineering practices should be applied in the classroom. The NGSS authors used this insight to develop a set of guiding principles that serve as a basis for deeper understanding of the intentions of the practices. Several of these guiding principles are particularly germane to understanding the potential for synergy with the CCSS for ELA literacy in science standards. First, the practices are to encompass each grade band across K-12, growing in complexity and sophistication. In addition, the practices reflect what students should be able to do but do not constitute pedagogy or curriculum. Perhaps most relevant is the recognition that engagement in the science practices is “language intensive and requires students to engage in classroom science discourse” (NGSS Lead States, 2013, Appendix F, p. 3).
Because the CCSS literacy in science standards predated the NGSS, developers of the NGSS worked directly with the CCSS team to identify the connections between the two sets of standards.3 However, questions about how the two sets of standards can complement each other and can be used in concert to improve students’ reading and writing, as well as listening and speaking, to learn science continue to exist.
Throughout the workshop, the presenters explained that implementing the CCSS for ELA and the NGSS faithfully and meaningfully is challenging for several reasons. One primary reason identified is that the objectives for students outlined in the CCSS for ELA and the NGSS, while complementary, reflect disciplinary differences in the kinds of knowledge and skills that are emphasized. In addition, teachers face competing priorities and limited time in the school day in which to accomplish educational goals. Further, the issues to be addressed and the structures of the standards documents vary across grade levels. For example, the literacy in science portion of the CCSS for ELA standards only apply to grades 6-12. However, there are CCSS for ELA elements of the standards in grades K-5 that are potentially relevant to science, but no guidance is provided for teachers as to how to address them in the context of science. In the K-12 framework and NGSS, the intent is that the practice of obtaining and communicating information will be addressed across grades K-12. Another significant challenge is that the organization of schools and the expertise of teachers are not always well-matched to the
3Appendix M of the NGSS provides a detailed explanation of connections between the CCSS for ELA literacy in science standards and the NGSS. Available: http://www.nextgenscience.org/sites/ngss/files/Appendix M Connections to the CCSS for Literacy_061213.pdf [July 2014].
shifts in practice that are called for in the standards. While links to the potentially relevant aspects of the CCSS for ELA are included in the NGSS, the specific strategies teachers can use to make these connections will need to be included in instructional materials and curricula that are based on the standards, and they will need professional development that supports the shifts in approach and pedagogy.
Despite these challenges to implementing the CCSS for ELA and the NGSS, research and practice has demonstrated that literacy4 and science need not compete for priority. Rather, as many workshop participants described, natural synergies exist that benefit both disciplines at the same time to the advantage of both students and teachers. The workshop, summarized here, was designed to explore and provide clear examples of the way in which the CCSS for ELA and the NGSS can work together, and the supports throughout the educational system that make this vision possible.
ORIGIN OF THE WORKSHOP
At the beginning of the workshop, Helen Quinn, Stanford Linear Accelerator Center, Stanford University (emerita) and chair of the Board on Science Education (BOSE), explained that the need for the workshop became evident as BOSE discussed the confusion that still exists among teachers and administrators about how to and who should implement the literacy in science standards of CCSS for ELA and how these standards work with the NGSS. The number and nature of questions from around the country led BOSE to determine that addressing this confusion was a top priority. Therefore, the board initiated plans to develop a workshop to address the need to coordinate the literacy in science aspect of CCSS for ELA with the explicit demands on “obtaining, evaluating and communicating information” as a practice in science instruction. They also wanted to ensure that the workshop addressed concerns from science educators that the new requirement of reading about science might prevent the engagement of students with science, primarily in elementary grades.
A six-member planning committee worked together over a period of six months to plan a workshop to address these concerns. The committee was composed of individuals with expertise in science and literacy education, classroom discourse, curriculum and professional development, state education policy, and
4Literacy is used in this summary to mean the ability to read, write, listen, and communicate information orally.
GOALS OF THE WORKSHOP
An ad hoc steering committee will plan and hold a public workshop looking at the intersection between the “Literacy in Science” portions of the Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts (CCSS for ELA) and the practices in the Next Generation Science Standards (originally outlined in NRC’s A Framework for K-12 Science Education).
The proposed workshop will feature invited presentations and discussion that will
- (1) explore the intersections and overlap between the “Literacy in Science” portions of the CCSS for ELA and Practice 8 in the NRC’s framework related to “obtaining, evaluating, and communicating information” including consideration of the unique characteristics of communication in science;
- (2) consider the complementary roles of English language arts teachers and science teachers as well as the unique challenges and approaches for different grade levels and articulate the knowledge and skills teachers need to support students in developing competence in reading and communicating in science;
- (3) consider design options for science and ELA curricula and courses that provide aligned support for students to develop competencies in reading and communicating in science;
- (4) discuss the role of district and school administrators in guiding implementation of science and ELA to help ensure alignment.
the intersection of science, literacy, and culture.5 Committee members planned the agenda and structure of the workshop and identified presenters to help achieve the goals set forth in the charge to the committee, shown in Box 1-2.
The committee planned a two-day workshop with six sessions to meet the goals.6 Session 1 addressed the nature of literacy in science in the CCSS for ELA and in the NGSS. Session 2 was devoted to a closer examination of the underlying principles involved in literacy for science, as well as the nature of text and discourse in science. Session 2 also featured specific examples of literacy for science enacted in classrooms with joint presentations by researchers and teachers. Session 3 summarized the major issues discussed during the first day of the workshop, and
5See Appendix C for information on the steering committee and presenters.
6See Appendix A for the workshop agenda.
Session 4 focused on challenges for the education system related to literacy for science. This session featured models of novice teacher preparation and professional development. In addition, presentations also addressed efforts to address the intersection of CCSS for ELA and NGSS on a larger scale. Sessions 5 and 6 focused on identifying and discussing major themes and next steps. Throughout the two days, audience members had numerous opportunities to comment, ask questions, and engage in discussion with one another. The workshop was also Webcast to include remote participants, and audience members and viewers were invited to submit questions and comments on a workshop Webpage.
The workshop was held December 9 and 10, 2013, in Washington, DC, and brought together 53 participants from across the country. In addition, 71 people watched the live Webcast of the workshop for at least 30 minutes, 53 of whom watched for over 2 hours.
ABOUT THIS REPORT
This report presents a summary of the presentations and discussions from the workshop. The chapters do not directly follow the order of the sessions. Instead, the presentations and discussions at the workshop are grouped by topic. Chapter 1 addresses the rationale for the workshop. Chapter 2 includes an overview of the connections between English language arts and science. Chapter 3 describes the presentations and discussion around the nature of science text and talk. Chapter 4 includes examples of literacy for science in practice in the classroom from the perspective of curriculum developers and teachers at the elementary, middle, and high school levels. Chapter 5 addresses models of professional development for both novice teachers and practicing teachers. Chapter 6 presents the strategies and lessons learned from the efforts to scale up support for science education at the network, district, and state level. Finally, Chapter 7 presents themes, as well as some ideas for potential future research and policy, identified by some of the workshop participants. Appendix A is the workshop agenda, and Appendix B is a list of registered workshop participants. Appendix C contains biographical summaries for the steering committee members and workshop speakers. Many presenters prepared background papers to accompany their presentations. These papers are located on the BOSE project Website.7
7The Website is available at http://sites.nationalacademies.org/DBASSE/BOSE/DBASSE_085962 [July 2014].