Planning Professional Learning Using the NGSS Implementation Pathway Model
Posted: Tuesday, November 4th, 2014
by John Spiegel, Anthony Quan, and Yamileth Shimojyo
The Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) have the ability to transform teaching and learning in the classroom. They will dramatically change how students experience science by shifting the focus from the memorization of facts to greater student engagement in the processes of science. The NGSS emphasize learning in three dimensions: Science and Engineering Practices, Crosscutting Concepts, and Disciplinary Core Ideas. In addition, there are seven Conceptual Shifts, or Innovations, that have strong implications for teaching and learning. These shifts include the interconnected nature of science as practiced in the real world, the integration of science and engineering, the use of performance expectations, a focus on deeper understanding of content as well as application of content, and alignment to the Common Core State Standards. Teachers will ultimately be tasked with implementing the NGSS, but cannot do so without extensive time to plan and engage in professional learning.
The California Department of Education is approaching the implementation of NGSS thoughtfully and is encouraging districts and teachers to do the same. They have drafted the Next Generation Science Standards Implementation Plan for California, which outlines a phased approach in preparing for and implementing the NGSS (see Figure 1). This plan stresses the importance of “high quality professional learning opportunities for educators to ensure that every student has access to teachers who are prepared to teach to the levels of rigor and depth required by the CA NGSS.”
Figure 1: Phases of NGSS Implementation
The draft Next Generation Science Standards Implementation Plan for California outlines the three phases of implementation as:
- The Awareness phase represents an introduction to the CA NGSS, the initial planning of systems implementation, and establishment of collaborations.
- The Transition phase is the concentration on building foundational resources, implementing needs assessments, establishing new professional learning opportunities, and expanding collaborations between all stakeholders.
- The Implementation phase expands the new professional learning support, fully aligns curriculum, instruction, and assessments, and effectively integrates these elements across the field.
This past summer, during a leadership meeting of the Southern California Association of Science Specialists (SCASS), we discussed the question, “What do all teachers need to know and be able to do to demonstrate they are prepared to implement the NGSS?” Finding varied responses among ourselves, we agreed to work collaboratively to develop a model that would attempt to answer this question as well as provide specific outcomes that could be used to design professional learning for teachers. This work has been summarized in The NGSS Implementation Pathway Model (see Figure 2), which identifies four stages: (1) Initial exposure to NGSS, (2) Deepening understanding of NGSS, (3) Planning instruction around NGSS, and (4) Full alignment of instruction to NGSS. These stages are related to the awareness, transition, and implementation phases outlined in the draft Next Generation Science Standards Implementation Plan for California.
Figure 2. The NGSS Implementation Pathway Model
The arrows in The NGSS Implementation Pathway Model represent a sequence of professional learning that teachers will need as they begin working with the NGSS. Of particular importance is the circular arrow between the stages of “Deepening Understanding of NGSS” and “Planning Instruction around NGSS”. These two stages are cyclical in nature. As teachers begin planning instruction aligned to the NGSS, time should be spent researching the Framework for K-12 Science Education or other resources to deepen their personal understanding of the Conceptual Shifts as they consider the classroom implications of these Innovations. For example, a teacher planning an instructional sequence around a performance expectation that requires students to develop a model (Science and Engineering Practice #2) might need to further their own understanding of what a model is and how to help students develop and use a model.
Figure 3. Stages in the NGSS Implementation Pathway Model
A description of the four stages of The NGSS Implementation Pathway Model are described in Figure 3 as well as possible outcomes for personal or collaborative professional learning. The outcomes focus on implications for teaching and learning as teachers explore the Conceptual Shifts (Innovations) and the three dimensions of the NGSS, and begin planning instruction around performance expectations.
To meet the outcomes identified in each stage of this model, teachers will need to dedicate significant effort towards their own professional learning. Schools and districts will also need to provide support and time for this learning to occur. It should be emphasized that all teachers in a school or district will not be at the same stage at any given time, thus there will be a need to differentiate professional learning for teachers in the coming months and years. In addition, the time needed to work through these stages should not be underestimated.
The NGSS Implementation Pathway Model is powerful in helping educators, administrators, and leaders of professional learning think about what teachers need to know and be able to do as they engage with the Next Generation Science Standards. We have found that this model has given us common language and outcomes as professional learning is developed. In addition, it has provided teachers with a tool to plan their own professional learning path. The NGSS Implementation Pathway Model is a valuable resource in support of the on-going work to move California closer in realizing the vision of NGSS for ALL students.
John Spiegel is the Science Coordinator at the San Diego County Office of Education. He can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter at @sdngss.
Anthony Quan is the STEM Consultant at the Los Angeles County Office of Education. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, on Facebook @Lacoe Stem, or on Twitter at @LacoeQuan.
Yamileth Shimojyo is the Science-STEM Coordinator at the Riverside County Office of Education. She can be reached at email@example.com.
 The proposal of this document can be found at http://www.cde.ca.gov/pd/ca/sc/documents/implndrft072414wmrk.pdf. A final version of this document is on the agenda for approval by the State Board of Education in November 2014.
 Next Generation Science Standards Implementation Plan for California DRAFT, page 12.
 Adapted partially from the work of Harold Pratt in The NSTA Reader’s Guide to the Next Generation Science Standards. 2013.
 The Conceptual Shifts (Innovations) are found in Appendix A: Conceptual Shifts in the Next Generation Science Standards at www.nextgenscience.org.
 The Three Dimensions of Learning are found in Appendix E, F, and G at www.nextgenscience.org and Chapters 3-8 from The Framework for K-12 Science Education: Practices, Crosscutting Concepts, and Core Ideas (NRC, 2012). can be found at www.nap.edu/catalog.php?record_id=13165.
Posted: Monday, March 27th, 2017
The California Science Teachers Association (CSTA) stands with our science and science education colleagues in endorsing the March For Science and its associated activities.
The decision by the CSTA Board of Directors to support the March for Science was based on the understanding that this is an opportunity to advocate for our mission of high quality science education for all and to advance the idea that science has application to everyday life, is a vehicle for lifelong learning, and the scientific enterprise expands our knowledge of the world around us. The principles and goals of the March for Science parallel those of CSTA to assume a leadership role in solidarity with our colleagues in science and science education and create an understanding of the value of science in the greater community. CSTA believes that the integrity of the nature of science and that the work of scientists and science educators should be valued and supported. We encourage your participation to stand with us.
There are over 30 satellite marches planned for the April 22, 2017 March for Science in California (to find a march near you, click on “marches” in the upper right of the main page, select “satellite marches” and use the search feature). We encourage members who participate in the March for Science to share their involvement and promotion of science and science education. Feel free to promote CSTA on your signs and banners. For those on social media, you may share your involvement via Twitter, @cascience and our Facebook groups.
Posted: Tuesday, March 14th, 2017
The pre-publication version of the new California Science Curriculum Framework is now available for download. This publication incorporates all the edits that were approved by the State Board of Education in November 2016 and was many months in the making. Our sincere thanks to the dozens of CSTA members were involved in its development. Our appreciation is also extended to the California Department of Education, the State Board of Education, the Instructional Quality Commission, and the Science Curriculum Framework and Evaluation Criteria Committee and their staff for their hard work and dedication to produce this document and for their commitment to the public input process. To the many writers and contributors to the Framework CSTA thanks you for your many hours of work to produce a world-class document.
For tips on how to approach this document see our article from December 2016: California Has Adopted a New Science Curriculum Framework – Now What …? If you would like to learn more about the Framework, consider participating in one of the Framework Launch events (a.k.a. Rollout #4) scheduled throughout 2017.
The final publication version (formatted for printing) will be available in July 2017. This document will not be available in printed format, only electronically.
Posted: Monday, March 13th, 2017
The 2017 Award Season is now open! One of the benefits of being a CSTA member is your eligibility for awards as well as your eligibility to nominate someone for an award. CSTA offers several awards and members may nominate individuals and organizations for the Future Science Teacher Award, the prestigious Margaret Nicholson Distinguished Service Award, and the CSTA Distinguished Contributions Award (organizational award). May 9, 2017 is the deadline for nominations for these awards. CSTA believes that the importance of science education cannot be overstated. Given the essential presence of the sciences in understanding the past and planning for the future, science education remains, and will increasingly be one of the most important disciplines in education. CSTA is committed to recognizing and encouraging excellence in science teaching through the presentation of awards to science educators and organizations who have made outstanding contributions in science education in the state and who are poised to continue the momentum of providing high quality, relevant science education into the future. Learn More…
Posted: Monday, March 13th, 2017
CSTA is now accepting applications from regular, preservice, and retired members to serve on our volunteer committees! CSTA’s all-volunteer board of directors invites you to consider maximizing your member experience by volunteering for CSTA. CSTA committee service offers you the opportunity to share your expertise, learn a new skill, or do something you love to do but never have the opportunity to do in your regular day. CSTA committee volunteers do some pretty amazing things: Learn More…
Posted: Monday, March 13th, 2017
by Marian Murphy-Shaw
If you attended an NGSS Rollout phase 1-3 or CDE workshops at CSTA’s annual conference you may recall hearing from Chris Breazeale when he was working with the CDE. Chris has relocated professionally, with his passion for science education, and is now the Executive Director at the Explorit Science Center, a hands-on exploration museum featuring interactive STEM exhibits located at the beautiful Mace Ranch, 3141 5th St. in Davis, CA. Visitors can “think it, try it, and explorit” with a variety of displays that allow visitors to “do science.” To preview the museum, or schedule a classroom visit, see www.explorit.org. Learn More…