Statement of Support
“Next Generation of Science Standards”
We live in an ever changing and evolving world, where the rate of human, social, economic, technological and cultural change continues to increase. The torrential pace of advances in technology are undeniable and unavoidable. Just as nature adapts to the surrounding environment, we must similarly empower our communities and schools to respond to changing global, technological, and economic conditions. The way we educate our children and the benchmarks by which our students progress throughout their academic career require us to reevaluate and update the minimum standard for achievement to align with global workforce demands and advances in a technology based economy.
The level of STEM related jobs grew at three times the rate of occupations in non-stem fields over the last decade and it is estimated that North Dakota will need to fill 15,000 STEM related positions by 2018. These numbers demonstrate how essential it is to update education standards and realign a system that fosters preparedness for careers, occupations, and industries in STEM fields, some of which did not exist twenty or even ten years ago.
It is for these reasons the ND STEM Network is taking a position to support the Next Generation of Science Standards (NGSS). The ND STEM Network recommends the adoption and implementation of the NGSS which are an effective research based approach to the transformation of science education. The current North Dakota Science Content Achievement Standards were adopted in 2006, however these standards were based off of the National Research Council’s (NRC) National Science Education Standards which were published in 1996, almost two decades ago. It is important in an ever changing world to have science standards that not only reflect changes in science content, but also in the way that students’ best learn science.
It is exciting that the NGSS were developed through an extensive process of research and collaboration of state stakeholders, science education leaders and industry partners. The National Research Council’s Framework for K-12 Science Education, published in 2011, guided the Lead State Partners and the Writing Team during development of the standards.
Many questions concerning the need for a new set of national science standards are answered in the writing “Taking Science to School”. This writing includes a progression of science education since standards first started being used in our countries classrooms. It also allows anyone who does not understand the new design of the science standards to gain a better appreciation for how and why the NGSS were designed.
“Taking Science to School” also influenced the building of the NRC’s Framework which serves as the foundation for the new science education standards that will replace the standards developed in the 1990s, including the National Science Education Standards(NSES) and the Benchmarks for Science Literacy (Benchmarks).
It is important that the new science standards can be integrated with the Common Core Standards of Math and English Language Arts. All three sets of standards have commonalities that can be used while developing crosscutting teaching strategies that are proven to advance student learning. The strategies can be designed to reduce teaching in silos and to reduce the need for teaching extensions and remediation in new teaching environments.
The NGSS encourage the embedding of STEM skills needed in careers students will be pursuing upon completion of school.
Additionally, the NGSS require professional development for teachers and a strong understanding by administrators in order for the standards to be successful in the schools that will use the standards. It is recommended that anyone in the science community or anyone concerned about the new NGSS standards fully examine the Framework and explore in-depth the concepts and ideas on which the new standards are built. For a more lengthy description of the potential strategies and professional development needs of the NGSS please refer to the NSTA position statement at: http://www.nsta.org/about/positions/ngss.aspx.