January/February 2017 – Vol. 29 No. 4

How Will NGSS Be Held Accountable?

Posted: Friday, March 1st, 2013

by Peter A’Hearn

No fellow teacher, I’m not asking how you will be held accountable for the NGSS. I’m wondering how the NGSS will be held accountable for achieving its goals of improving science education.

Will more students be prepared to work in science and engineering related careers and pass college courses in science and engineering?  Will more kids be excited about science and engineering and choose careers or continuing education in the sciences?

We have been through some big reform movements and we know all about unintended consequences. It wasn’t a goal of No Child Left Behind (NCLB) that science, history, and the arts virtually disappear from the curriculum in high-poverty elementary schools (or was it?).  It certainly wasn’t intended that students use school time for “Let’s Do Our Best on the Test” pep rallies. NCLB was built with noble intentions but had no built-in feedback mechanism. Changing it will require an act of Congress and good luck with that.

What I would like to see is for NGSS to provide us with some benchmarks on the path to achieving the vision in the Framework for K-12 Science Education. What should we see and when and how will we know its working? Will NGSS include a process for self-reflection and revision or will it require a totally new set of standards to replace it if goes off the rails?

Proposing a timeline strengthens the NGSS by providing realistic benchmarks for the changes that it anticipates. The Framework acknowledges that developing curriculum and changing classroom practice will take time and will be frustrating.  Providing realistic expectations now, will have the benefit of preventing critics from saying, “You’ve had three years now and no more kids are going into engineering than before! The NGSS have failed and need to be dumped.”

Here are some specific questions that I’d like to see addressed:

  • One of the goals of the Framework is to limit the number of core ideas (i.e. facts) so there is time for students to learn concepts in more depth and engage in science and engineering practice and application. Some, including the American Association for the Advancement of Science, have questioned if this has been achieved in the draft versions of the NGSS has that have been released thus far, especially at the high school level.  Is there a way to measure if students are more engaged in practices, and if not, is there a way to review and potentially reduce the number of core ideas? When should we start to see the shift in classroom practice?
  • The Framework says that the development of aligned curricula will take time. When can we anticipate well-designed instructional materials that guide teachers in teaching the NGSS? Using the Common Core standards implementation as a guide, we can estimate that for California it will be three or four years (assuming legislative action is taken to allow for that process to take place).
  • When can we expect to see more students pursuing science and engineering degrees in college?
  • Will businesses see that more students are prepared to do work in science and engineering fields? How will this be measured?
  • Are we going to measure how interested kids are in engineering and science? Studies have shown that the more science classes that students take, the less interested they are in science- will NGSS help to reverse that?
  • NGSS is supposed to be accompanied with new kinds of computer-based tests that will measure student’s ability to engage in science practices. What if we find out that instead of actually doing science, kids are just sitting in front of computers practicing taking the tests?

Science teachers have high hopes for the NGSS, but experience tells us to be wary of unintended consequences.  What would you like to hold NGSS accountable for?

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Written by Peter AHearn

Peter AHearn

Peter A’Hearn is the K-12 science specialist in the Palm Springs Unified School District and is Region 4 Director for CSTA.

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STEM Conference Hosted by CMSESMC

Posted: Saturday, January 14th, 2017

The Council of Math/Science Educators of San Mateo County will be hosting the 41st annual STEM Conference this February 4, 2017 at the San Mateo County Office of Education. This STEM Conference is the place to get lots of new lessons and ideas to use in your classroom. There will be over twenty-five workshops and a variety of exhibitors that provide participants with a wide range of practical and realistic ideas and resources to use in their science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) programs from Pre-K to grade 12. With California’s adoption of the Common Core State Standards and the Next Generation Science Standards, we are dedicated to ensuring that we prepare our teachers to take on these educational policies.

Teachers, administrators, and parents are invited to explore the many exciting aspects of STEM education and learn about and discuss the latest news, information, and issues. This is also an opportunity to network with colleagues who can assist you in building your programs and meet new friends that share your interests and love of teaching. Register online today!

Learn More…

Written by California Science Teachers Association

California Science Teachers Association

CSTA represents science educators statewide—in every science discipline at every grade level, Kindergarten through University.

Submit Your NGSS Lessons and Units Today!

Posted: Friday, January 13th, 2017

Achieve has launched and is facilitating an EQuIP Peer Review Panel for Science–a group of expert reviewers who will evaluate the quality and alignment of lessons and units to the standards–in an effort to identify and shine a spotlight on emerging high-quality lesson and unit plans designed for the NGSS.

If you or your state, district, school, or organization has designed NGSS-aligned instructional materials, please consider submitting these in order to help provide educators across the country with various models and templates of high-quality lesson and unit plans. Learn More…

Written by California Science Teachers Association

California Science Teachers Association

CSTA represents science educators statewide—in every science discipline at every grade level, Kindergarten through University.

Opportunity for High School Students – Los Angeles County

Posted: Friday, January 13th, 2017

An upcoming Perry Outreach Program on Saturday, April 22, 2017 at the Orthopaedic Institute for Children in Los Angeles, CA. The Perry Outreach Program is a free, one-day, hands-on experience for high school and college-aged women who are interested in pursuing careers in medicine and engineering. Students will hear from women leaders in these fields and try it for themselves by performing mock orthopaedic surgeries and biomechanics experiments. Learn More…

Written by California Science Teachers Association

California Science Teachers Association

CSTA represents science educators statewide—in every science discipline at every grade level, Kindergarten through University.

Science Education Policy Update

Posted: Friday, January 13th, 2017

by Jessica Sawko

January 2017 has proven to be a very busy month for science education policy and CA NGSS implementation activities. CSTA has been and will be there every step of the way, seeking and enacting all options to support high-quality science education and the successful implementation of CA NGSS.

California Department of Education/U.S. Department of Education Science Double-Testing Waiver Hearing

The year started with California Department of Education’s (CDE) hearing with the U.S. Department of Education conducted via WebEx on January 6, 2017. This hearing was the final step in California’s efforts to secure a waiver from the federal government in order to discontinue administration of the old CST and suspension of the reporting of student test scores on a science assessment for two years. As reported by EdSource, the U.S. Department of Education representative, Ann Whalen, a senior adviser to U.S. Secretary John King Jr., committed to making her final ruling “very shortly.” Deputy Superintendent Keric Ashley presented on behalf of CDE during the hearing and did an excellent job describing the broad-based support for this waiver in California, the rationale for the waiver, and California’s commitment to the successful implementation of a new high-quality science assessment. As previously reported, California is moving forward with its plans to administer a census pilot assessments this spring. The testing window is set to open on March 20, 2017. For more information visit New CA Science Test: What You Should Know.

Learn More…

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Written by Jessica Sawko

Jessica Sawko

Jessica Sawko is CSTA’s Executive Director.

NSTA Los Angeles Conference Features Many CA Science Leaders

Posted: Friday, January 13th, 2017

by Jessica Sawko

The early-bird registration rates for the 65th NSTA National Conference on Science Education in Los Angeles is just days away (ends Feb. 3). And as the early-registration deadline approaches excitement is building for what is anticipated to be the largest gathering of science educators (both California and nationwide) – with attendance expected to reach 10,000 or more. If you have never had the pleasure of attending the NSTA National Conference, I recommend you visit their website with tips for newcomers that describe the various components of the event. A conference preview is also available for download. Learn More…

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Written by Jessica Sawko

Jessica Sawko

Jessica Sawko is CSTA’s Executive Director.