The draft New York State Science Learning Standards (NYSSLS), were released for public review, on November 19th. A survey to collect public comments on the draft NYSSLS is expected to be released on December 2, 2015. Here are OCM BOCES Center for Innovative Science Education’s top ten things to consider when reviewing the NYSSLS:
- Review the process by which NYSED went through to create the NYSSLS from the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). The process began in 2013 with a public survey that asked respondents to compare the NGSS to the current New York State science standards. Two sets of standard writing teams made edits to the NGSS to develop the NYSSLS. The Science Education Steering Committee reviewed the preliminary drafts after the first round of edits and provided SED with feedback.
- Keep in mind the process by which the NGSS were created. This process was initiated by 26 lead states, with New York being one of them. Additionally, the NGSS included three rounds of national public comment. The writing team consisted of 40 individuals including teachers, higher education faculty (science education and science content faculty), and leaders from STEM industry.
- A Framework for K-12 Science Education: Practices, Crosscutting Concepts, and Core Ideas (NRC, 2012) identifies the goals for the NGSS as well as foundational research in K-12 science education. This document clearly articulates the goals of the NGSS to be science standards for all students to develop core understandings of fundamental science phenomena as well as the practices of science. The learning experiences should allow all students to be critical consumers of science.
- The last set of science standards (New York State or national) were developed two decades ago. The field of science education has learned a great deal about how kids learn science. The NGSS are based on the most current science education research.
- Kids are natural born investigators of their world and are capable of engaging in sophisticated scientific reasoning, even at a very young age (NRC, 2007).
- The NGSS are based on a learning progression, focused on students continually developing a more sophisticated and deeper understanding of core science phenomena over time. Thus, the middle school standards thoughtfully and intentionally build upon K-5 standards, as well as high school standards on middle school standards. Previous science standards were not based on the learning progressions theory.
- Sixteen states, including Washington, D.C. have already adopted the NGSS.
- The NGSS are based on the full integration of all three dimensions: disciplinary core ideas, cross cutting concepts, and science and engineering practices. This requires the construction of learning opportunities for students to carry the cognitive demand of making sense of scientific phenomena by engaging in the practices of science.
- Remember these new standards are supposed to be fundamentally different from our current standards. Be careful to guard against our natural tendency to assimilate or to try to fit the new standards into our current standards or instructional practices. Spillane (2009) documented the practice of assimilation in all aspects of education and found that it prevents the intended changes that new standards provide from being revealed in students’ learning experiences. The NGSS and the NYSSLS offer the opportunity for positive changes in K-12 science learning experiences.
- The OCM BOCES Center for Innovative Science Education is here to support the transition to the NYSSLS. We have a web page dedicated to the NYSSLS. We are holding three sessions to better understand the draft NYSSLS and to engage in collegial discussions about the draft standards:
Jessica Whisher Hehl
- NRC, (2007). Taking Science to School: Learning and Teaching Science in Grades K-8. National Academies Press, Washington, D.C.
- Spillane, J. P. (2009). Standards deviation: How schools misunderstand education policy. Harvard University Press.