A consortium of science and education organizations has released the first set of science standards since the original set prepared by the National Research Council and the American Association for Advancement in Science 15 years ago. The Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) aim to incorporate the scientific community’s understanding of science as it has grown and changed.
The new NGSS standards represent the core scientific concepts that practicing scientists agree K-12 students should know by the time they graduate. The framework for the standards was developed by the National Research Council, the National Science Teachers Association, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and Achieve. Together they built compiled principals and solicited input from states about what pedagogy and curricular specifics to build in.
“Students need to understand how science works, the practices and the crosscutting concepts in order to be ready to assume their roles in a scientifically complex world,” said Frank Neipold, co-chair of the Climate Education Interagency Working Group at the U.S. Global Change Research Program. Neipold has worked on the standards in many capacities and sees them as vitally important to educating the next generation to think critically about how systems work together.
Twenty-six states helped write the standards, and while there is no obligation that states adopt them, many likely will. The standards focus on fewer core concepts, are meant to go deeper within each concept, and emphasize the interdisciplinary nature of science.
[RELATED READING: Five Amazing Videos That Show Why Science is Awesome]
The standards are organized in three dimensions: key concepts, crosscutting concepts, and practices. Key concepts are broadly important and teachable over a series of years, such as the subject of climate change, which can get more complex as students build upon their knowledge. The second dimension is crosscutting concepts, things that span the scientific disciplines like energy and matter, cause and effect or systems. Lastly, students will be expected to understand the practice of science, undertaking scientific inquiry and comparing the practices of science with those of engineers.