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Understanding Next Generation Science Standards

Understanding Next Generation Science Standards

Author: Kathleen Johnson

In this lesson, students evaluate the origins and purpose of the NGSS science standards. In addition, students evaluate the 3 dimensions of the NGSS science standards.

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Hello, ladies and gentlemen. I hope you are having a wonderful day today. Today we're going to be looking at understanding the Next Generation Science Standards. And for today's lesson, I've chosen a quote by Carl Sagan, which says, "Somewhere, something incredible is waiting to be known." And I think that really sums up the awesomeness of science.

By the end of today's lesson, you will be able to review the origin of the Next Generation Science Standards, as well as analyze the Next Generation Science Standards and all of the specific elements involved. So first, let's look at the history and the development of these standards.

The development of these standards is really a wonderful collaboration between the National Research Council, the National Science Teachers Association, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science, as well as the Achieve Group. All of them collaborated together to develop these standards.

First what happened in this process was the National Academy of Sciences developed a framework for the K-12 science education. And what I love about this is it was based on current research, making it exceptionally applicable to students who really wanted to continue a career within the sciences.

Then, states led by Achieve, a nonprofit organization that's independent and committed to really looking at educational reform and college and career readiness skills developed the K-12 science standards, including content and practice standards across many different science disciplines and grades. The Achieve Group was really instrumental in helping to ensure that all of this came about.

Achieve was established in 1996, and it helped to include a number of different governors as well as various business leaders that really wanted to work on improving college and career readiness skills in addition to increasing graduation rates. So once Achieve got together, they worked with those 48 states, the National Governors Association, the Council of Chief State Officers, all helping to develop the Common Core standards.

They also helped to work with the National Research Council and the 26 states that were involved in developing the Next Generation Science Standards. These science standards were published in 2013 and they based these elements, the Next Generation Science Standards, on the initial framework that was developed by the National Academy of Sciences. Next, let's take a look at that framework.

This framework can be found at the following website. It's quite a long website to write down, but it's a wonderful place to get the specifics of the framework that we're going to discuss. This framework is really broken down into three different dimensions.

These three dimensions include disciplinary core ideas. What are the major elements with in the discipline that we want students focusing in on? Content-specific information as well as cross-cutting concepts. As with any of these standards, there are positives and negatives that come along with them.

First, these have not been adopted by the majority of states yet. Even though 26 states helped lead in the creation of this work, they have not yet adopted these standards. However, most resources are indicating-- especially those that are right off the shelf resources-- indicate that they are aligned with Next Generation Science Standards.

A really wonderful, helpful one is the Equip Rubric, which can be found at It's a wonderful tool to evaluate the alignment and to determine the degree to alignment of materials, lessons, and units as you're developing that science course.

These standards are written a little bit differently from the Common Core state standards, as they are written as performance standards. And you probably noticed that as we went through some of the elements of the standards. There is also an option to follow the standards using two different approaches. The first approach is a topical approach.

Or you could follow the standards using the disciplinary core idea approach-- again, a little bit of a different vantage point to looking at these standards. Now that we've reached the end of our lesson today, you've been able to review the origin of the Next Generation Science Standards as well as analyze the Next Generation Science Standards.

I'd like to take just a moment. Now for reflection. After learning about the Next Generation Science Standards, I want you to think about what it will be like to teach those as a science teacher, understanding that your colleagues in other states might not be using the same standards.

What difficulties would come of this, and are there any potential benefits? It's your turn now to apply what you've learned in this video. The Additional Resources section could be super helpful to you. This section is designed to help you discover useful ways to apply what you've learned here. And each link includes a brief description so that you can easily target the resources that you want.

Notes on "Understanding Next Generation Science Standards"

(00:00-00:24) Intro

(00:25-00:35) Objectives

(00:36-02:40) NG Science Standards History

(02:41-03:20) NG Science Standards Framework

(03:21-04:40) Positives & Negatives

(04:41-04:52) Review

(04:53-05:38) Reflection

Additional Resources

The Next Generation Science Standards

The NGSS site is a comprehensive website that includes the NGSS standards, resources for teachers, and embedded professional learning videos and resources. It is important to note that when searching the standards, you can search by Topic or by Disciplinary Core Idea (DCI). Most school districts make a collective decision on which method to use when incorporating the standards into their curriculum and instruction. This link provides you access to both the Topic view and the DCI view.

How to Read the Next Generation Science Standards

The NGSS are challenging to read at first. Their structure is different than most standards that teachers work with on a regular basis. In an effort to help teachers understand how to read the standards, NGSS has developed this useful how-to video.

EQuIP Rubric for Lessons & Units: Science

There are currently many resources available with a NGSS sticker attached, yet very few of these resources are actually aligned. As an educator it can be difficult to know if a resource is aligned. The EQuIP rubric provides an easy to use rubric for educators when selecting and developing resources and lessons aligned to the NGSS. Below is a link to the rubric as well as a how-to video on using the rubric.
Video: (Scroll to the center of page and click on the tab labeled "EQuIP Training Materials.")