Eric.ed.gov – Commentary & Feedback on Draft II of the Next Generation Science Standards

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No one is satisfied with science education in the U.S. today. One need only look at Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS), Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA), and National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) data to see what a mediocre job is being done of imparting a solid science education to the average American student. There are multiple reasons for this failure, not least the poor preparation of too many teachers whose job it is to teach this critical subject. One key explanation is the poor quality of academic expectations and standards themselves. In science–perhaps even more than other subjects–states must honor their responsibility to set forth, explicitly and rigorously, the skills and content that schools are expected to impart and students are expected to learn at every grade level. Such standards need to be clear, meaty, challenging, well prioritized, and–perhaps most importantly–teachable. These are, the expectations that should be used by practitioners to inform curriculum, textbook, and teacher preparation, that become the basis for state and local assessments, and that inform–or should inform–classroom-level planning and instruction. Done right, state K-12 science expectations set a firm foundation upon which the rest of science education across the state will be constructed. Particularly for teachers who may lack the content-specific expertise themselves, state standards will direct their planning, inform their instruction, and set a clear bar for student content mastery at each grade level. Because getting this right is vital, the Thomas B. Fordham Institute has been reviewing state science standards since 1998. In the most recent review, published just a year ago, expert reviewers determined that the clarity, content, and rigor of most state K-12 science standards was mediocre to awful. They assigned grades of C or worse to three quarters of the states. While the first draft of the the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) that was reviewed by Fordham experts found that much was promising. The commentary by the reviewers of the first draft determined that “the NGSS authors have much to do to ensure that the final draft is a true leap forward in science education.” This second review and commentary report asks the following question: To what extent has NGSS draft 2.0 rectified the shortcomings scrutinized by the first review, and are we significantly closer to a set of K-12 science standards that even states with strong standards of their own would do well to adopt? The conclusion of the review of NGSS 2.0 is that if draft 2.0 were to become the final version of NGSS, only states with exceptionally weak science standards of their own would likely benefit from replacing them with these “next-generation” standards. This report urges NGSS drafters and overseers to take as much time as necessary to make the final version come out right. Reviewers stated that the present draft is problematic in more ways than it is strong. [This report was written with Douglas Buttrey, Ursula Goodenough, Noretta Koertge, Lawrence S. Lerner, Martha Schwartz, and Richard Schwartz. Math Feedback was provided by William Schmidt and W. Stephen Wilson. Foreword was written by Chester E. Finn, Jr. and Kathleen Porter-Magee. Funding for this review is from the General Electric Foundation. For Draft I of the Next Generation Science Standards, see ED598747. For the related 2011 review, see ED524696.]

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Troels Gannerup Christensen

Jeg er ansat som lektor hos Læreruddannelsen i Jelling, hvor jeg underviser i matematik, specialiseringsmodulet teknologiforståelse, praktik m.m. Jeg har tidligere været ansat som pædagogisk konsulent i matematik og tysk hos UCL ved Center for Undervisningsmidler (CFU) i Vejle og lærer i udskolingen (7.-9. klasse) på Lyshøjskolen i Kolding. Jeg er ejer af og driver bl.a. hjemmesiderne www.lærklokken.dk og www.iundervisning.dk, ggbkursus.dk og er tidligere fagredaktør på matematik på emu.dk. Jeg går ind for, at læring skal være let tilgængelig og i størst mulig omfang gratis at benytte.

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