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Achieve, Inc., and published by the National Academies Press.

As of early 2016, nearly a third of U.S. states and the District of Columbia have adopted

the NGSS. Many states already had their own standards in advance of the development

of the NGSS, and did not opt to adopt the new standards. Some states feel that the NGSS

are insufficient to provide curricular or instructional guidance to teachers, and that their

standards are superior to the NGSS. However, many school districts are adopting the

standards in advance of their states – in some cases, with the NGSS being adopted in

tandem with different state standards.

Adoption of the standards is slow, but progressing. There are a number of speculations

about the factors that have influenced the slow adoption of the NGSS in comparison to

the relatively quick adoption of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS). Because the

CCSS were used by many states as “college and career-ready” standards to comply with

incentives for the Race to the Top program, it is possible that many states are waiting

before adopting yet another set of new standards. Additionally, states have put significant

efforts into improving student achievement in mathematics and English/language arts (the

content associated with the CCSS) through the development of assessments following the

implementation of No Child Left Behind. No nationwide assessment has yet be developed

for science education aligned with the NGSS, and the results of student achievement in

science have significantly less political clout than mathematics of English/language arts. In

some cases, states have opposed any national standards.

Even so, teachers who work in districts or states where the NGSS have not been adopted

should still be aware of the standards both because many professional organizations

have endorsed them and so that they can effectively engage in national discussions about

science education.

Overview and History of the NGSS

The Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) were written as a response to the

growing need for a STEM-ready U.S. workforce with critical thinking and inquiry-

based problem solving skills. The NGSS addresses science understanding and

skills at the K-12 level and includes performance expectations for students to have

accomplished by the end of Kindergarten, grades 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5, and at the end of

Middle School (MS) and High School (HS).

Many physics teachers across the country have found themselves impacted by statewide,

local, or even personal adoption of the NGSS. As a result, physics teachers might find

that they need to make shifts in the type of content that they teach and the instructional

practices that they use. To fully understand the NGSS, it is important to understand the

origin of the NGSS, as well as the full K-12 spectrum that it spans.

The NGSS were based on A Framework for K-12 Science Education (2012), produced

by the National Research Council. In order to understand the content and organization

of the NGSS, this document is a “must read” for educators.

What sets the NGSS apart from previous standards are the three dimensions of the

Framework that are interwoven into each standard:

Disciplinary Core Ideas

Science and Engineering Practices

Crosscutting Concepts

In addition to these three dimensions, standards are also connected to:

Understanding the Scientific Enterprise: The Nature of Science

Engineering Design

Science, Technology, Society, and the Environment

Common Core State Standards for Mathematics

Common Core State Standards for Literacy in Science and Technical Subjects

The NGSS were released for adoption by states in April 2013. Reviewing the nationwide

progression of the NGSS can be very helpful to comprehending the fairly complex

nature of the document. Refer to

Resources for Implementing the NGSS

near the back

of this pamphlet for more information. All of the listed documents are available for

free download and serve as an introduction to the evolution of STEM education in the

United States over the past 20 years.

Using the Framework and its three dimensions (Disciplinary Core Ideas, Science and

Engineering Practices, and Crosscutting Concepts), the Next Generation Science

Standards were developed by a coalition of 26 lead states under the guidance of

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