The feedback window for the Next Generation Science Standards is closed but I think it is important for us to keep the conversation going about how to make the final draft the best set of science standards possible.
Two recent set of recommendations from national groups were just released and I suggest we all take a look:
- The National Science Teachers Association has released their recommendations. (Click HERE) I tend to agree with most of their thoughts, however, I’m growing a bit weary of their platform on the nature of science. Don’t get me wrong- I have nothing against the nature of science but I don’t see how the addition of content on the nature of science will bring clarity to what is already a pretty dense document packed with layers of complexity.
- AAAS also released a set of recommendations. (Click HERE) I agree wholeheartedly with their call for “less”. Check out the following quote:
Thus, before finalizing the new standards, we urge Achieve to quickly convene small groups of the nation’s best teachers at the primary, middle-school, and high-school levels. Although teachers have been involved in the writing effort, their new charge should be to bring ground truth to the NGSS by determining the maximum number of disciplinary core ideas that can be covered in a single school year.
In the last 3 weeks I have had opportunities to present the draft NGSS to multiple K-8 teachers in several districts in my region. Here are some of their questions and thoughts many of which align with the NSTA and AAAS recommedations:
- Who is the audience for this document? It doesn’t seem to be for K-5 teachers. Not teacher friendly.
- Do the performance expectations have to be one sentence? It feels like some of them could be broken down into smaller parts.
- Even though it looks like a small number of standards per grade (K-5) when you start to unpack each performance expectation there is obviously a lot of instructional time that will need to be dedicated to each.
- There seems to be way too much content despite the purported goal of decreasing the traditional broad content coverage in science.
- How will these standards help to create interest, advocacy, and efficacy around effective science instruction in an elementary system that already lacks most of these qualities? In other words, if a teacher or building principal is not a champion of elementary science and already feels overwhelmed by Common Core, teacher/principal evaluation, AYP, etc.. How is this multicolored barrage of science information going to help them take a step toward saying, “Yes, we can do this! Now I see how science is important for all elementary students.”
I’m confident that Achieve, the lead states, and the writing team will continue to work hard to make the NGSS the best set of science standards possible. I also hope they are willing to take some extra time, if necessary, to get it right.