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Quick FAQ’s about the NGSS for

Physics Teachers

The NGSS are best understood in the context of the National Academy’s

Framework for K-12 Science Education.

It is highly suggested that teachers and

administrators read the Framework

first before attempting to implement the


What are the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS)?

The NGSS are

a set of performance expectations that describe what students should know and

be able to do at various stages in their K-12 development, and were written with

wide-scale student assessment in mind. The NGSS are not written as curriculum:

they do not provide details about what students need in order to master a big

idea. The NGSS do not provide explicit guidelines to teachers about instructional

approaches; educators are expected to use their discretion when making decisions

about pacing, order, and teaching method.

Why should I care about the NGSS?

The NGSS is a result of a nationwide attempt

to increase science literacy for all. Physics is fundamental to this effort. The writing

of the NGSS was based upon work by the National Academies and the American

Association for the Advancement of Science, and was written by 41 science

educators and leaders from 26 Lead States. Even if your school district or state

has not adopted the NGSS, understanding them is key to engaging in the national

discussion about science education.

What do the NGSS look like?

Below is a sample standard related to physics.

The NGSS are performance objectives (defining a student action for



that include both depth of content (

Disciplinary Core Ideas

), skills (


and Engineering Practices

), and interconnections with other science disciplines


Crosscutting Concepts

). The NGSS are also aligned with

Common Core State


for English Language Arts / Literacy and Mathematics. See “Reading the

NGSS” in this guide for a much more detailed explanation of how these facets of

each standard are related to one another.

Ex.: HS-PS3-5.

Develop and use a



two objects interacting through

electrical or magnetic fields

to illustrate

the forces between objects



changes in


of the objects

due to the interaction. [Clarification

Statement: Examples of models could include

drawings, diagrams, and texts


such as drawings of what happens when two charges of opposite polarity are

near each other.]

[Assessment Boundary: Assessment is limited to systems

containing two objects.]

Where do I find physics content in the NGSS?

Because the NGSS place heavy

emphasis on the interdisciplinary nature of science and engineering, the standards

are not explicitly organized by subject. Although physics can be found (alongside

chemistry) in the Physical Science grouping of standards, physics concepts can

also be found in the study of Earth and Space Science (i.e. gravity), Life Sciences

(i.e. energy flow), and Engineering standards.

How would adoption of the NGSS affect the physics courses that I teach?

The answer to this is dependent upon both your existing teaching style and

course content. While most standard high school physics courses will include

the “big topics” addressed by the NGSS (Motion, Forces, Energy, and Waves),

the NGSS also places a heavy emphasis on interdisciplinary understandings and

engineering. Teachers might find that they need to make more room for teaching

these additional skills, shift their instructional approach, and/or to take more

professional development themselves in order to help students address these


What is the AAPT’s position on the NGSS?

The AAPT supports the spirit and

purpose of NGSS as implemented in the context of the Framework, but does not

endorse any set of standards.

Where can I learn more about the NGSS?

Get new resources that align with

and support the use of the NGSS at

Visit http://www.

to read and learn more about each of the NGSS performance

expectations. See “Resources for Implementing the NGSS” near the end of this