This past October I attended the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) regional conference in Louisville, KY. Dr. Stephen L. Pruitt, Vice President for Content, Research, and Development for Achieve is leading the development of the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) and was the keynote speaker. I found his session very informative and received information on the development of the standards, including the process and timeline for release of drafts and final documents, how science educators can be involved and implications for science teaching.
The second round of feedback has recently begun. I was pleased to hear that the feedback from the first round of reviewers was primarily positive. Comments about the vision, clarification statements, assessment boundaries and web presentation including interactivity were shared by Mr. Pruitt and I was glad to hear of their existence. The most promising point made was the deliberate connections to the already released common core standards. Some suggestions for improvement included clarity/consistency of language, grade level appropriateness, mathematical integration and the treatment of engineering. I agree that all of these are important and need to be addressed.
The most exciting information I received was that the NGSS will be written as performance expectations. When I first understood what deconstructing standards was about in the late 90’s I worked to complete this task with our Kentucky science standards and rudely discovered that we didn’t have any DO’s , everything written was about the KNOW”S. This helped me to understand why science teachers were struggling so much with teaching the standards. If all we have are ‘knowing’ statements then you do an awful lot of memorizing. This was exactly what I was observing in classrooms. Our Kentucky science standards were quickly revamped to include process. There is no way we can have science without ‘Doing’ and starting with performance expectations is a great way to begin.
One final thing I would like to suggest is attending the webinars available through NSTA. I will be attending several and will share what I learn. http://learningcenter.nsta.org/products/symposia_seminars/Ngss/webseminar.aspx
Next Generation Science Standards
Science Careers in Search of Women, 2009 by Argonne National Laboratory