Next Generation Science Standards

Next Generation Science Standards

While much attention is paid to the Common Core State Standards in Math and English  adopted in 2010 by 46 states,  don’t be fooled into thinking that national “common standards” will end with math and English.   Education reform proponents cleverly focused initially on the “least controversial” subjects and then turned their attention to develop other standards.  Next up, science standards.

Next Generation Science Standards were introduced in April, 2013.    The Next Generation Science Standards website boasts that they are state lead,

“states lead the development of K–12 science standards, rich in content and practice, arranged in a coherent manner across disciplines and grades to provide all students an internationally-bench marked science education. “

Like the Common Core math and English Language Arts Standards, the states that adopt them do not own them.  The Next Generation Science Standards have trademark and copyright restrictions.   Also similar to Common Core,   the NGSS process was completed behind the scenes and a collaborative effort managed by Achieve, Inc.    Michigan is a “lead state” in the development of the standards.

“Three states—Kansas, Kentucky, and Rhode Island—have adopted the new standards.”   The Michigan Board of Educaiton was poised to approve these science standards as part of a consent agenda, meaning they had no intention of discussing the standards before the vote.   Concerned citizens discovered the plan and attended the meeting prepared to speak.   However, the Michigan Department of Education chose to postpone the vote.    As of this writing has not updated the MDE timeline to indicate when they will take a vote.   The next scheduled meeting is in August.  Stop Common Core in Michigan is opposed to the implementation of the NGSS science standards in Michigan schools.

The Fordham Institute evaluated the science standards and rated them a “C.”

 Having carefully reviewed the standards, however, using substantially the same criteria as we previously applied to state science standards criteria that focus primarily on the content, rigor,and clarity of K-12 expectations for this key subject our considered judgment is that NGSS deserves a C

Via Truth in American Education: Here are five of the “significant flaws” as defined by Fordham:

  • Much essential content was omitted.
  • The grade-to-grade progression that was a strength of the NRC Framework was not fully realized in the NGSS. The result was that some content that was never explicitly stated in earlier grades was nevertheless assumed in later grades.
  • A number of key terms (e.g., “model” and “design”) were ill defined or inconsistently used and a number of actual errors were scattered throughout.
  • Recommended “practices” dominated the NGSS, relegating essential knowledge—which should be the ultimate goal of science education—to secondary status.
  • The articulation of “assessment boundaries” in connection with many standards threatened to place an unwarranted ceiling on important learning. Yes, teachers can go above and beyond what the boundary suggests, but with time and resources scarce, how many will actually teach students—even advanced students—content and skills that they know in advance “won’t be on the test”?

Fordham evaluated Michigan’s current science standards against the Next Generation Science Standards and determined that they were “too close to call.”   The report also issues this critical warning

“One more crucial point at the outset: most states already have full plates of education reformsthat are plenty challenging to implement, often including the Common Core State Standards for English language arts and math. Before undertaking any major change in their handling of science education, state leaders would be wise to consider whether they have the capacity toaccomplish this in the near term, too. We caution against adopting any new standards until andunless the education system can be serious about putting them into operation across a vastenterprise that stretches from curriculum and textbooks to assessment and accountabilityregimes, from teacher preparation to graduation expectations, and much more. Absent thoroughand effective implementation, even the finest of standards are but a hollow promise.” (Page 5)

Stop Common Core in Michigan agrees.

NGSS are privately owned and were heavily influenced by Pearson Publishing for their profit.   In a clear conflict of interest, Pearson employees guided the standards and are  writing the curricula and tests to go along with the NGSS.   The NGSS Writing Team Leader is Michael Wysession, Ph.D.  He is also a writer of the Pearson science textbooks.

Dr. Wysession is co-author of Pearson Prentice Hall’s new national K8 science textbook program, Interactive Science, and lead author of Prentice Hall’s 9th-grade physical science textbook, Physical Science: Concepts in Action.

New “national” K-8 science textbook?   The secrets out, “common standards” will lead to a national curricula with Pearson leading to charge to become the national provider of curricula and assessments.  Pearson is  working with PARCC and Smarter Balanced Assessments to develop the “Next Generation” assessments that are required to go with the national standards and curricula.   Pearson also happens to have it all packaged together neat and tidy for states to ease into the transition on their PearsonSchool: Next Generation Science Standards website.   Other states are waking up to the Pearson monopoly new national standards bring.

Our state has allowed Pearson, the corporation responsible for most standardized testing in Tennessee, to become the most powerful aspect of your child’s education. No other factor is so influential in determining how classroom hours are spent than Pearson.

Michigan science teachers got their “first look” at the standards in late May.    One look by 800 teachers is not sufficient to decide the science standards in every Michigan classroom.    Let’s not make the same mistake we made with Common Core and allow the sub-standard, privately owned  Next Generation Science Standards to be adopted by the Michigan Department of Education without a thorough evaluation by Michigan lawmakers, parents, and teachers.