Next gen science standards

Next Generation Science Standards, now under development, promise to prepare U.S. students for the global economy. But the standards need work, Fordham reviewers argue.

In trying to create fewer, deeper standards, the drafters haven’t developed some prerequisite skills and content and focus too much on conceptual understanding and process rather than scientific knowledge, according to a review team led by biologist Paul Gross.

They went overboard on “scientific practices,” seemingly determined to include some version of such practices or processes in every standard, whether sensible (and actionable, teachable, assessable) or not. This led to distorted or unclear expectations for teachers and students and, often, to neglect of crucial scientific content. For instance, students are frequently asked to “construct explanations” or “construct models.” In addition to being unclear (how does one “construct explanations”?), such directives imply that how students learn the content articulated in the standards is as important as whether they learn it. In reality, content standards should focus on delineating the essential content, and should leave it to curriculum developers and teachers to parse how best to scaffold learning, devise pedagogy, and plan classes.

In addition, the draft science standards aren’t well aligned with Common Core math standards, the reviewers write.

However, it’s only a draft. There’s plenty of time to improve the standards.


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