It seems the biggest thing on everyone’s STEM mind is still the Next Generation Science Standards. While the NGSS aren’t finalized yet (the second draft was released and opened for feedback on January 8th and will remain open until January 29th), key aspects of the standards are clear:
- Scientific and engineering processes and cross-cutting concepts will be taught in conjunction with all core content throughout the year. Evidence suggests that active engagement in scientific and engineering processes and cross-cutting concepts helps deepen students’ understanding of core content and better reflects how science is done in the real world.
- Emphasis will be on depth rather than breadth. In other words, instruction will focus on the essential core ideas and develop them progressively and coherently across K-12. This will help students acquire a deeper understanding that allows them to apply these core ideas to gain new knowledge.
- Science and engineering will be integrated so that students understand the relationship between the two and how they are applicable to their everyday lives and to solving current world challenges such as developing clean energy and preventing and treating diseases.
- Science standards will coordinate with Common Core State Standards for English language arts (ELA) and math so that science is an integrated part of students’ overall education.
The new standards are a large shift from the existing ones. The National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) issued a statement on the recent draft approving the depth and strength of the standards. They do also acknowledge the need for professional development and updated instructional materials.
“As a partner in the NGSS development process, NSTA will be working with science educators nationwide to identify and develop professional development and curricular materials that will be needed to work toward successful implementation of NGSS,” said Dr. Karen L. Ostlund, NSTA President. “The levels of achievement called for in NGSS are ambitious, and we call on all stakeholders to help us build the capacity to adopt and implement the new standards and provide the broad support that schools and teachers will need in the months and years ahead.”
View www.nextgenscience.org for further details and all things NGSS.