The Next Generation Science Standards, the work of nearly two years and the combined effort of 26 states, have been released. The NGSS comprise of a voluntary set of benchmarks for K-12 science education and have been designed to assure that next generation of students graduate high school being fully prepared to take on college-level work in a society steeped in technology.
The NGSS are based on the idea of science education outlined by the Framework for K-12 Science Education published by the National Research Council of the National Academies in 2011. Leading the NGSS drafting effort were New jersey, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Delaware, Georgia and Illinois, among others.
"The NGSS aim to prepare students to be better decision makers about scientific and technical issues and to apply science to their daily lives. By blending core science knowledge with scientific practices, students are engaged in a more relevant context that deepens their understanding and helps them to build what they need to move forward with their education -whether that's moving on to a four-year college or moving into post-secondary training," said Matt Krehbiel, Science Education Program Consultant, of Kansas.
"This blending of the dimensions described in the Framework for K-12 Science Education aligns with what research has shown are the most effective practices in teaching science. Students who experience quality instruction based on the NGSS will be prepared to understand the world around them and will be college and career ready."
Perhaps seeking to avoid the shadow cast by the drafting process for the Common Core Standards, the participants were vehement in pointing out that the NGSS effort was entirely state driven and funded. The idea to create the next generation framework for science education came from the states themselves and was not encouraged or abetted by the federal government in any way.
The funding for the effort came primarily from the Carnegie Corporation of New York whose mission is to support efforts to improve science education in North America.
"The Next Generation of Science Standards promise to help students understand why is it that we have to know science and help them use scientific learning to develop critical thinking skills-which may be applied throughout their lives, no matter the topic. Today, students see science as simply a list of facts and ideas that they are expected to memorize. In contrast to that approach education researchers have learned, particularly in the last 15 to 20 years, that if we cover fewer ideas, but go into more depth, students come away with a much richer understanding. Unlike previous standards, where you have separation of inquiry and ideas that students should know, in the NGSS they are now together," said Joseph S. Krajcik, Professor of Science Education in the College of Education at Michigan State University and a member of the writing team.