Although the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) have been in development for a relatively short time, a Google search for them produces nearly 5.5 million hits. That’s not surprising, since this highly anticipated document will have a profound impact on students and the quality of science education they will receive for years to come. The development of science standards that can be supported by states is an important step in ensuring all students in this country receive a high-quality science education. With so much at stake, the monumental task of developing NGSS has involved science education stakeholders from every corner of the nation. NSTA is at the forefront of the effort, both behind the scenes and in highly visible ways. At NSTA, it has, and will continue to be, “all hands on deck” to help science educators prepare for NGSS.
The release of A Framework for K–12 Science Education by the National Research Council (NRC) in July 2011 set the NGSS wheels in motion. The Framework represents the first step in the NGSS development process by laying the foundation for the standards and outlining the scientific and engineering practices, crosscutting concepts, and disciplinary core ideas all students should know and be able to do by the end of high school. Achieve, Inc., is managing the second step, which is a state-led process to write the standards. In May 2012, the science education community had a chance to review and comment on the first draft. The release of the second and final public draft is expected in early January. The final document is scheduled to be completed in early 2013.
NSTA is a committed partner in the process of developing the new standards. We are advising Achieve and reviewing both private and public drafts along the way. We’ve enlisted hundreds of science educators across the country to review these drafts and provide input. We assembled an expert standards review team to guide our work. We also are disseminating information about NGSS, engaging science educators in the feedback process, helping teachers learn more about the content and implications of both the Framework and NGSS, and developing plans to support the implementation of NGSS when it is completed and adopted by states.
When the Framework was released, NSTA launched a campaign throughout the science education community to build awareness about it and to help science educators learn more. Thus began a flood of activity to develop materials and publications, host web seminars, lead online chats, provide learning opportunities at conferences, and more. Every NSTA department has been involved—from social media to conferences, and from the Learning Center to publications. The fruits of our labors are numerous, and they are ready and waiting for you.
Get in the Know: NSTA is using many communication vehicles to provide information and updates about NGSS. If you’re reading this article, you are most likely already an NSTA member and on our distribution list. If not, register for the NSTA Express e-newsletter. You can also access the latest information, updates, and host of resources at www.nsta.org/ngss.
Have a Voice: NSTA encourages science educators to participate in the NGSS feedback process by reviewing the public drafts and providing input to Achieve. To support teachers’ understanding of the drafts, we developed a handy guide for organizing study groups. An updated guide will be posted online prior to the next public draft.
Learn Online…for Free: As part of a grant provided by the Carnegie Corporation of New York, NSTA recently hosted a series of eight web seminars on the scientific and engineering practices in the Framework. It’s not too late to see, hear, and learn from the experts about these important practices. The archives of the entire series await you at http://learningcenter.nsta.org (search using the keyword phrase NGSS@NSTA). Stay tuned for more web seminars exploring the second NGSS dimension, crosscutting concepts.
Read It Here: A special article series exploring concepts in the Framework is being published in all NSTA journals. Written by many experts, including Framework and NGSS authors, articles have focused on the practices, crosscutting concepts, and many other topics related to the Framework and NGSS. Check your journal for the articles, or view them all at www.nsta.org/ngss.
Connect With Colleagues: Whether it’s on our e-mail lists, Learning Center community forums, blogs, Facebook page, or Twitter, a vibrant conversation about NGSS is always happening on NSTA community networks. Discuss NGSS with colleagues, stay informed, and get answers to your questions at www.nsta.org/dashboard.
Get the Guide: Receive help unpacking the three dimensions of the Framework with the NSTA Reader’s Guide to A Framework for K–12 Science Education. Each chapter provides an overview with a brief synopsis of key ideas, an analysis of what is similar to and what differs from the National Science Education Standards, and a suggested action to help readers understand and prepare for NGSS. The Reader’s Guide author, NSTA Past President Harold Pratt, is a career science educator who was deeply involved in developing the National Science Education Standards. Order the Reader’s Guide.
Head to San Antonio: The NSTA National Conference on Science Education in San Antonio, April 11 – 13, is the place to be to learn about NGSS. The timely event will feature an NGSS Town Hall Meeting with Achieve’s Stephen Pruitt, a special series of sessions presented by K – 12 teachers who served on the writing team, Professional Development Institutes to be held just before the conference, a Research Dissemination Conference showcasing the research foundation of NGSS, and much more. Register today at www.nsta.org/conferences.
Look to NSTA for Help in Implementing NGSS : With grant funds from Carnegie, NSTA is developing a web portal centered on the implementation of NGSS. The portal will be the online community for learning about and accessing instructional coaching and materials aligned to the NGSS.
Much must be done now to prepare for NGSS. NSTA is the destination for the resources and information you need. Looking ahead, the efforts surrounding NGSS will soon transition to state adoption, then the hard work of taking NGSS from policy to classroom practice will begin at state and local levels. NSTA will serve as your guide to support you, your school, and your state on the successful implementation of NGSS.