Next Generation Science Standards: A Guide to the 2nd Draft

Learning, Learning Innovations / by

Next Generation Science Standards: A Guide to the 2nd Draft by Adam Percival was originally posted on Navigator.

The second draft of the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) is now available for public comment at http://www.nextgenscience.org/. This final public draft will be available online for everyone to review and provide feedback until January 29. Following this comment period, Achieve and the lead state partners will continue revising the draft, and expect to release the final standards for states to consider adopting in March.

For more background on the Next Generation Science Standards, you might want to take a look at these FAQs.

You might also be interested in my “quick start” guide to reviewing the first set of standards.

So, what to look for in this NGSS draft? Achieve says that 95% of the performance expectations have been revised, which is very positive. Both the NSTA and the Thomas Fordham Institute, among others, were relatively critical of the first draft of the NGSS. It’s a good sign that significant revisions have taken place.

Here is a short list of weaknesses identified in the first public NGSS draft, which I hope to see have been addressed in the 2nd draft:

  • Content errors/misconceptions: Unfortunately, a number of these made it into the first NGSS draft. Given how close we are to the final release of the NGSS, I’d expect these sorts of issues to be fixed in this draft.
  • Unclear/unhelpful integration with science practices: The NGSS performance expectations integrate science practices (things such as “developing models” or “engaging in argument based on evidence”) with disciplinary core ideas from the various disciplines of science and with broader, crosscutting concepts. Unfortunately, as both NSTA and the Fordham Institute identified, this integration often resulted in performance expectations that didn’t require a student to actually know much. For example, the practice of “asking questions” can be performed by a student with little deep understanding of the subject. In this draft, I hope to see performance expectations that require students to fully comprehend the content area in order to demonstrate mastery. That’s not to say that practices like “asking questions” aren’t a critical part of science, but for these purposes, something more unambiguously rigorous is needed to guide curriculum, instruction, and assessment.
  • Grade-level appropriateness: The first NGSS draft frequently had performance expectations that were either too high-level (especially at the elementary level) or too low-level for their intended grade.
  • Connections to the Common Core standards for English Language Arts and Math: This section was incomplete in the first NGSS draft, and the content standards did not always align well to the Common Core standards at the same grade level. I’m hoping to see a tight integration between these sets of standards in this draft.

Finally, “nature of science” has been added to the practices and crosscutting concepts, per the NSTA’s recommendation following the first draft of the NGSS. I’m looking forward to evaluating this addition to the standards.

With the final Next Generation Science Standards nearing completion, we’re at an exciting time for science education! I encourage everyone to review the standards and provide their feedback.

What will you be hoping to see in this draft of the Next Generation Science Standards?

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