On May 11, 2012 the first draft of the New Generation Science Standards (NGSS) was released. We, the public, had three weeks to deliver feedback to “Achieve,” who is leading this writing endeavor. This was a tireless process, and took much time and patience to accurately submit feedback.
As one of those who spent considerable time with colleagues preparing feedback to submit, I was very interested in what reviewers had to say. Peter Ahearn, a K-12 science specialist in the Palm Springs Unified School District in California, had the opportunity to speak directly with one of the California state writers about what happened to the feedback that was submitted, and shared this information with others in the science community. According to Peter, the reviewer said that there were 30,000 public notes submitted on the standards. The specific notes were given to the authors of that standard set. Some comments, such as “I don’t like this” or “this is awesome,” were ignored.
According to Peter, once the public review was complete there were additional review sessions held by professional college faculty groups, such as the American Physical Society. These groups were asked if the standards prepared students for college. The reviewer he spoke to was not aware if industry groups assessed the standards for career readiness. Since the standards are supposed to help students become college and career ready, we can only hope this was done!
Among a variety of other things, the new standards are intended to place a broader emphasis on the process and practice of the scientific enterprise. This is reinforced by the fact that the first “Dimension of the Framework” on which the standards are based is entitled “Practices,” and is meant to describe how scientists work; something people have long awaited! Keep in mind that the NGSS are based on the National Research Council’s (NRC) Framework for K–12 Science Education. These new standards will be the first update since the original National Science Education Standards were released in 1996. I am excited and happy to hear that our feedback is being used to improve the standards, and am hopeful that the new standards will be out by December 2012. I firmly believe that the Next Generation Science Standards will help to reset STEM education.