So far, eight states (Rhode Island, Kentucky, Kansas, Maryland, Vermont, California, Delaware, and Washington State) have adopted the new science standards, which were developed by 26 states. Broad-based teams within these states worked together with a 41-member writing team and partners throughout the country to develop the standards.

The standards, separate from those for the Common Core, which measure math and language arts, focus on practice, core idea, and cross-cutting concepts in order to mimic the three-dimensional process used by scientists in their profession.

Learn more about the new science standards:

 

“NGSS were written as performance expectations and will require contextual applications of the three dimensions by students,” explained Priutt. “The standards, developed by the National Research Council (NRC), the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA), the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), and Achieve, focus not just on the ‘what’ of learning, but the ‘why’ and ‘how.’”

Learn more about the development of the NGSS here.

What are states doing with NGSS?

According to Nancy Doorey, director of Programs, K–12 Center, Educational Testing Service (ETS), states will need to develop new professional development opportunities, instructional resources, and formative assessment resources if they plan to adopt NGSS.

“However, summative assessments for these standards are a large priority, as many states require students to pass science requirements in order to graduate,” she said. “The NRC will soon release a guide on developing these important assessments.”

Karen Kidwell, director of the Office of Program Standards for the Kentucky Department of Education, said her state–the first state to fully adopt the standards–is using a multi-year process for school districts to “build capacity.”

“We’re currently in the design stage for NGSS, figuring out how best to implement these standards into the curriculum and what kinds of assessments we’d use,” said Kidwell, “and we’re using a very collaborative approach in building this capacity with our 173 districts.”

According to Kidwell, Kentucky has had a hard time achieving inquiry-based learning at scale due to time constraints, but the new science standards are giving educators the right amount of time to help design the ideal curriculum.

Each school district in the state selects a team of 3-10 (depending on the size of the district) teacher-leaders to attend a larger learning community in each of the state’s 8 regions. These teacher-leaders meet with learning cooperatives, university officials, and field specialists from the state education department to discuss the implementation design of the NGSS.

(Next page: Benefits of adoption and upcoming projects)