Reviewed by David Gillam
Developed in the mid–1990’s, the current outline for America's science curricula represented by “Benchmarks for Science Literacy”(AAAS, 1993) and “National Science Education Standards” (NRC, 1996) provided an outline for what was taught, and how it was taught, in science classrooms in the United States. These documents were a good first start, but having been in use for a number of years, there are areas where they could be improved.
The National Research Council has produced a framework for developing the next generation of science standards for use by teachers, administrators, and others who work in science education. The book is divided into three parts. The first part sets forth a vision off K–12 science education and how this framework was developed. Part two is divided into three dimensions. The first dimension identifies the science and engineering practices to which students should be introduced. Science is identified as being the process of asking questions and constructing explanations, and engineering as defining problems and designing solutions. The second dimension identifies crosscutting concepts (big ideas) that are important for understanding science and engineering. For each of these concepts the report has defined the progression of understanding that students should develop. These concepts include patterns, cause and effect, systems and system models, etc. The third dimension include the core content from physical, life, earth and space sciences, and engineering, technology, and applications of science. In this dimension grade band endpoints are defined at second, fifth, eighth, and twelfth grades. Part three is the nuts and bolts for those that are going to be developing and implementing new science and engineering standards.
I would highly recommend this book for teachers and administrators to use along with the current standards or benchmarks. This will allow them to move forward in their teaching and how they look at science and its connection to engineering. At the district and state level the framework can help as they begin looking at curriculum and standards. This book will hopefully be the beginning of an ongoing discussion of K–12 science education in this country.
Review posted on 4/25/2012