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How Are the Standards Different?

New Standards for a New Generation

In April 2013, the science education community welcomed  Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS).  The voluntary standards describe important scientific ideas and practices that all students should learn by the time they leave the 12th grade. The standards integrate three important dimensions—science and engineering practices, disciplinary core ideas, and crosscutting concepts—effectively build science concepts from kindergarten through 12th grade, and integrate important concepts of engineering. The Next Generation Science Standards establish learning goals in science that will give all students the skills and knowledge they need to be informed citizens, college ready, and prepared for careers.

A group of 26 lead states, with a writing team of 41 experts in science education, developed the NGSS through a broad collaborative process that included many teachers and stakeholders in science and science education. Achieve Inc., AAAS, the National Research Council (NRC), and the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) partnered to support this effort. Throughout the process, numerous drafts were produced and provided to critical stakeholders and teams for review and input, and two public comment periods were held to get additional feedback. The first public comment period was in Spring 2012 and the second in Winter 2013. Visit the official NGSS page to see the development process.

The NGSS are based on the NRC Framework for K–12 Science Education. The standards consist of performance expectations, foundation boxes, and connection boxes. (See “Inside the NGSS Box” for a breakdown of the standards’ architecture.) The performance expectations in NGSS are grouped together in two different arrangements: (1) According to topics that the writers used when writing the performance expectations and (2) according to disciplinary core ideas from the Framework. States have the option of using either arrangement when they adopt the standards, or they may choose to develop their own arrangement.

Twenty states and the District of Columbia (representing over 36% of U.S. students) have adopted the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). The 20 states are Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington.

Twenty-four states (representing 35% of U.S. students) have developed their own standards based on recommendations in the NRC Framework for K-12 Science Education. The 24 states are Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New York, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.

For more information, hear what these science education leaders have to say, and view this video on NGSS (source: Achieve Inc.).

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