New guidelines for science education could change K-12 education across the nation. The Next Generation Science Standards represent a collaborative, state-led effort to develop common science curriculum standards for grades K-12.

Although states are not required to adopt the new standards, 26 states have pledged to seriously consider implementing them. The states include Arizona, Arkansas, California, Delaware, Georgia, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Tennessee, Vermont, Washington, and West Virginia.

Leaders of the effort say that the new standards may result in teachers covering fewer subjects, but covering them more in depth.

The standards place an emphasis on critical thinking and investigation. The standards are written as student performance expectations, which are grouped by topic and by grade: K-5, middle school and high school. Each topic includes disciplinary core ideas, science and engineering practices, and crosscutting, interdisciplinary concepts. Examples of biological standards include natural selection and adaptation, connections between organisms and ecosystems, and structure and function of living organisms.

The standards are based on the National Research Council’s “Framework for K-12 Science Education.” The framework identified the science elements K-12 students should know, based on the most current research in science and science learning.


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