Could these new standards work better than Common Core?

“We’re focused right now on understanding the intent of these standards, the performance expectations, and taking the time to understand and analyze the types of questions, resources, and items to see if they’re congruent to NGSS. We’re trying to develop what we call ‘critical consumer’ skills,” said Kidwell.

Kentucky isn’t planning on requiring districts to use the NGSS until the 2015-16 school year, but recommends all district begin sending teacher-leader teams to these meetings and having superintendents and principles meeting with state education department field specialists.

“This is a great opportunity because we have such a long time to think about and design for these standards,” said Kidwell. “Though it’s not required that districts participate in the design stage right now, it’s recommended. So far, 95 percent of all state districts are participating in these meetings, which bodes well for full-scale implementation in the next couple of years.”

Kathleen Scalise, PhD, associate professor of Education at the University of Oregon, highlighted a number of ways states could design curriculum and assessments around the new standards, specifically using a model based on work supported by the National Science Foundation.

“The model that we’re proposing is based on the theory of action—so you’re not just collecting data on what students know, but trying to have the assessments teach students at the same time. In other words, what can students learn from the assessments?”

The model is called Visual: Student Model ECD and includes pieces that fit together like a puzzle.

Scalise also went into vigorous detail into three different options states could use design implementation and assessment for the NGSS. For more information on these options, view the webinar.

“The key messages we’re giving out to states right now is to effectively implement the Common Core Standards, identify the role that science plays in the overall education plan, develop a thoughtful and deliberate implementation plan that supports the overall education plan, and be patient!” said Pruitt.

Another issue in the upcoming year will be the focus on funding, said state leaders, because the NGSS currently do not have any state coalitions—such as PARCC and Smarter Balanced—for the Common Core Standards.

Read more on NGSS integration with Common Core here.

Though both PARCC and Smarter Balanced received federal funding to develop assessments for the Common Core, individual states do have federal funding for science assessments.

“We’re not anticipating any additional money for these new science standards and assessments,” said Kidwell, “so we’ll probably try to use the money already allotted to our state for the development of science assessments.”

According to Pruitt, NGSS has a number of upcoming projects to help states further implement the new standards, including: SciMath (Jan. 2014), Evidence Statements (Jan. 2014), Publishers’ Criteria (Spring 2014), Alignment Institutes (early Summer 2014); Additional Model Course Maps (Winter 2014), Science EQuIP (Winter 2014), and the State of Science Education Research (Winter 2014).

Meris Stansbury

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