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Editor's Note

Ten Years of NGSS: Where Are We Now?

Science and Children—March/April 2023 (Volume 60, Issue 4)

By Elizabeth Barrett-Zahn

In the 10 years since the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) were released, 44 states have implemented standards influenced by A Framework for K–12 Science Education and/or the NGSS ( In this issue of Science and Children, we examine how these adopted standards have changed or supported science learning in preschool through elementary classrooms.

When we peek into preschool and elementary classrooms, we still see that many educators continue to view science as an add-on not given the same amount of time for preparation or valued as vigorously as language arts or math. This has only intensified since the learning loss of the pandemic. As much as ever, teachers need help finding time, resources, materials as well as administrative support when they contemplate teaching science. Current research reveals how children learn best, and we are seeing some teachers shift to include science as a context for learning. Teachers are increasingly witnessing the benefits of relevant, authentic learning opportunities that complement students’ interests and develop their communication and thinking skills. Science can facilitate that.

Within the 10 years of NGSS, the adoption process has been gradual, and we are only beginning to be able to assess the intended effects on student learning. Undoubtedly, the pandemic slowed things down, yet it also revealed inequities and missing elements in our educational system. Understanding that not all students have the same access to science and engineering or equitable technology is a reality and must be addressed and reformed as we work through the next 10 years.

As we continue to rethink our teaching practices, we must consider what students are doing. For example, how are they engaged with their learning, how actively involved are they in the investigation planning, who asks the questions, whose voices are heard, and are prior experiences and culture respected and valued? Understanding that science and engineering are essential for all Americans, whether entering a STEM profession or not, we must continue to reevaluate our teaching practices and intended student learning outcomes.

Finally, we must promote an asset-based approach to teaching and learning by creating opportunities for students to participate in meaningful discourse, practice scientific thinking, and evaluate designed improvements as engineers. When our students see science as a process of figuring things out and engineering as making decisions based on limitations and consequences, we are preparing our students for more than just a test at the end of the semester.

What will our next 10 years look like in elementary science education? As always, we would love to hear how you are making a difference in science teaching and learning in your classroom. Be sure to share your stories of positive change, rethinking practice, and increased student engagement with success in learning. Then we will be ready to revisit our progress in 2033.


Elizabeth Barrett-Zahn

Editor, Science and Children



Crosscutting Concepts Curriculum Disciplinary Core Ideas NGSS Science and Engineering Practices Elementary

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