My dear young fellow,’ the Old-Green-Grasshopper said gently, ‘there are a whole lot of things in this world of ours you haven’t started wondering about yet.
Roald Dahl, from James and the Giant Peach
We have heard little about Next Generation Science Standards which are being pushed into schools across the country, yet NGSS is from Achieve, Inc. and closely related to Common Core State Standards. It seems odd that parents are suddenly on board the Common Core train.
Yet states are adopting NGSS right under our noses and no one seems to be asking questions. In 2015, Education Week reported that the standards were pushed through with no problem in Arkansas. There was some push back in Kentucky. But mostly NGSS is riding into science classrooms with no opposition.
Also, I thought Donald Trump and Betsy DeVos were against Common Core State Standards, and if that’s true, why aren’t they speaking out against NGSS? Have they forgotten? Do they know anything about NGSS?
Next Generation Science embraces climate change concerns and evolution, but that doesn’t mean it is the perfect program for students. There are many concerns about the standards.
We’re Told Everyone Liked CCSS English Language Arts and Math So Much….
The masters of the NGSS claim there needs to be a new “conceptual framework” and (in reference to the original CCSS) they had an opportunity provided by a movement of multiple states to adopt common standards in mathematics and in language arts, which has prompted interest in comparable documents for science. This framework is the first part of a two-stage process to produce a next-generation set of science standards for voluntary adoption by states. The second step—the development of a set of standards based on this framework—is a state-led effort coordinated by Achieve, Inc., involving multiple opportunities for input from the states’ science educators, including teachers, and the public.
Prompted interest? I recall a bipartisan effort to want to get rid of Common Core State Standards! Was it a dream? I don’t know of a single teacher or parent today who says “hail the PARCC,” or “I can’t wait for Smarter Balanced assessment.” I don’t know anyone happy about placing their students on the computer to take these tests. You can be sure there will be more tests with NGSS.
And how voluntary is this program? Are school boards voting for it? Where is the community? Are parents and teachers participating in the process? Do they care? Or, is Common Core so deeply ingrained in school curriculum that it is a only natural to add the science version?
It is Called Three-Dimensional Learning
It all surrounds three-dimensions.
NGSS heavily emphasizes engineering (the E in STEM), because we don’t have enough jobless engineers, and it mashes science subjects together.
This is called “crosscutting” another Common Core weird word for all to learn. I think crosscutting is a serious issue that should be discussed at school board meetings.
Crosscutting concepts have application across all domains of science. As such, they are a way of linking the different domains of science. They include: Patterns, similarity, and diversity; Cause and effect; Scale, proportion and quantity; Systems and system models; Energy and matter; Structure and function; Stability and change. The Framework emphasizes that these concepts need to be made explicit for students because they provide an organizational schema for interrelating knowledge from various science fields into a coherent and scientifically-based view of the world.
Isn’t this confusing to children? What scientific proof is there that crosscutting all the subjects at this stage in a student’s development works?
The Standards Put Teachers on the Sidelines and Ignore Content
The very nature of the NGSS and CCSS puts teachers into the role of spectator instead of those who will be in charge of determining what they will teach, and the knowledge they hope their students will attain. With standards teachers must follow the script.
But unlike state science standards, NGSS is all about student performance. There is a strange disregard for content knowledge.
NGSS demeans teachers because teachers are merely observers as children work out their projects. This is eerily connected to the push to have students learn how to self-regulate their behavior to work on their own all the time—say on the computer.
Projects are important, but so is content knowledge. Both go together. And nothing can replace a teacher who understands their subject and how to relay science information to students.
STEM, STEM and More STEM—But Not Really
NGSS claims to include a lot of sciences but it isn’t organized like the creators would like you to believe.
Chemistry and physics are almost missing, especially in high school where these subjects are critical to any student considering a career in science!” I find this to be one of the most troubling aspects of NGSS.
Also, while there is a “coherence” statement that science should relate to math, the math Common Core is deficient for the science standards. Even the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, a lover of all that is Common Core, gave the NGSS a C. One of their criticisms is that they don’t think the science standards align with the math CCSS.
Then there are “clarification statements.” Truth in American Education likens this to a “Science for Dummies” approach. The “assessment boundary” steers science instruction to assessment, teaching to the test, and the Framework with all its number and color codes are confusing.
And, like with crosscutting, if you were thrilled with the jargon that is Common Core, you will love the language soup NGSS creators came up with while working with The National Research Council.
The NRC uses the term practices instead of a term like “skills” to emphasize that engaging in scientific investigation requires not only skill but also knowledge that is specific to each practice. Part of the NRC’s intent is to better explain and extend what is meant by “inquiry” in science and the range of cognitive, social, and physical practices that it requires.
Although engineering design is similar to scientific inquiry, there are significant differences. For example, scientific inquiry involves the formulation of a question that can be answered through investigation, while engineering design involves the formulation of a problem that can be solved through design. Strengthening the engineering aspects of the Next Generation Science Standards will clarify for students the relevance of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (the four STEM fields) to everyday life.
How Can We Be Sure These are Better Core Ideas?
I am always astounded at how Common Core instruction is marketed as scientifically proven. With no chemistry and physics and a lot left out of other science areas too, it is a certainty that NGSS is deeply flawed.
But the program makes a lot of promises. There are “disciplinary core ideas,” which are supposed to have the power to focus K–12 science curriculum, instruction and assessments on the most important aspects of science. To be considered core, the ideas should meet at least two of the following criteria and ideally all four:
- Have broad importance across multiple sciences or engineering disciplines or be a key organizing concept of a single discipline;
- Provide a key tool for understanding or investigating more complex ideas and solving problems;
- Relate to the interests and life experiences of students or be connected to societal or personal concerns that require scientific or technological knowledge;
- Be teachable and learnable over multiple grades at increasing levels of depth and sophistication.
Disciplinary ideas are grouped in four domains: the physical sciences; the life sciences; the earth and space sciences; and engineering, technology and applications of science.
There is much more, and I am sure bloggers, me included, could have a field day in the weeks to come analyzing the Next Generation Science Standards. But if parents and teachers don’t care there will be no point, and the next generation may wake up to learn they know very little about science.
Here is a list of references concerning NGSS easily found on the Internet. Some are linked above.
A’Hearn, Pete and Wand Battaglia. “Is the NGSS Going to Ruin High School Chemistry?” California Classroom Science. Oct. 19, 2015.
Braun, Karen. “Next Generation Science Standards Fall Flat.” ETC. January 22, 2013.
Dhar, Michael. “Next Generation: 5 Ways Science Classes Will Change.” Live Science. Oct. 9, 2013.
Cody, Anthony. “Chemtchr: A Science Teacher’s View: The Backward-Engineered Common Core Science Standards” by Mary Porter. NEPC. May 14, 2012.
Ultican, Thomas. “NGSS is Science Education Plague.” Tultican. Nov. 12.
Vander Hart, Shane. “Problems with Next Generation Science Standards.”” Truth in American Education. March 11, 2013.
ciedie aech says
My favorite line: “I am always astounded at how Common Core instruction is marketed as scientifically proven.” 🙂
Thomas Ultican says
Thank you for raising this issue. I have written five pieces dedicated to what a terrible idea NGSS is. I called two Trekkie Standard – the standards and Trekkie Standards – the framework because of the use of Next Generation in the name. It reminded me of Star Trek the Next Generation. One of my favorite articles I wrote about NGSS is NGSS is Science Education Plague https://tultican.com/2015/11/12/ngss-is-science-education-plague/
Nancy Bailey says
Very good, Thomas! I am sorry I missed your post, but it is still relevant and very interesting. I love that you describe how NGSS affects the students in your class. I didn’t know about Gerstner’s involvement with NGSS. You also raised an interesting point about how teachers are prepared to teach specific science areas, and how teaching across areas can cause problems. It help me put NGSS in perspective when it comes to instruction. Thank you for sharing.
Lisa M says
Parents don’t know….they have been removed from the equation. By the time kids get to the HS level, the parents aren’t as involved anyway. Parents have become “sheeple”.
Nancy Bailey says
Excellent point. Thank you, Lisa.
Laura Brown says
Nancy, do you think there is just a fatigue over all of the changes in standards?
Nancy Bailey says
Laura, I think you nailed it! I think parents are especially tired of CC ( I know I am), so it’s a great time to slip NGSS into the curriculum. Thanks!
Sandra Smith says
Cross-cutting sounds a lot like the old medical “doctrine of signatures”, which taught that yellow things should be used to treat jaundice, etc.
Nancy Bailey says
Many of the concepts overlap and are not bad, but it also implies cross disciplines and this is difficult for teachers who study one area of science. I am told. But yes, that’s an interesting word. Thanks, Sandra!
Cheryl Matas says
The NGSS was written by teachers and based on years of research on how students learn science. The three dimensions of science teaching and learning have students thinking like scientists and engineers. Teachers are not relegated to being facilitators, They guide students into coming with their own questions and using science to find the answers. Please don’t lump NGSS in with CCSS. CCSS was written by and for testing companies. NGSS was not. I’m happy to talk to you about the science standards any time.
Nancy Bailey says
“The Next Generation Science Standards align grade by grade with the Common Core State Standards for Mathematics and English Language Arts, so concepts support what students are learning in their entire curriculum. Connections to specific Common Core standards are listed for each NGSS performance expectation, giving teachers a blueprint for building comprehensive cross-disciplinary lessons.”
Cheryl, I’d love to hear about your experience teaching the standards, although I am not keen on them.
Laura Kimble says
Very timely that I should see your post! I live in WV and have been fighting Common Core and NGSS. As most of the legislators attention spans are akin to that of a gnat, the only way to garner attention to NGSS with them was to focus in on the climate change and anti-fossil fuels standards. (We actually had a state school board member claim that these had been taken out of the standards!) A review of the standards shows otherwise. Maybe the original NGSS would have been worse for our little ole state, but what we have is not better.
While everyone was so excited yesterday because the EPA regs have been lifted and the coal mines can hum once again, I was thinking about the NGSS. The coal mines might be up and running, but for how long? The new social engineering and thought will be aided with the NGSS. The nincompoops in Charleston and across the country don’t even know that students will still be learning about the evils of fossil fuels and the impact on the global community. They will also be able to only appreciate science and not analyze scientific questions. Will they even question the validity of what they are learning? With NGSS, students are not adequately prepared for Chemistry and Physics. They are not prepared to become scientists. They are not prepared to think like scientists. They are only prepared to read the NY Times and think that what is written is the established truth because they will know some of the jargon.
Thank you for drawing some attention to this.
NY Teacher says
Beware the Next Generation (K to 12) Science Standards now adopted by the majority of states
A skills centered, constructivist, dumbed-down approach to biology, chemistry, physics, geology, meteorology, astronomy, and more.
NGSS – Future Fail On its Way!
The roadmap to disaster:
1) Write abstract, confusing, jargon saturated, skills-centric, content weak, K to 12 science standards in your ivory tower.
2) Be sure that elementary standards are developmentally inappropriate by emphasizing abstract skill sets and omitting simple, concrete, straight forward, important content knowledge (facts and ideas)
3) Include the word “engineering” to satisfy the STEM worshippers, but take the generally accepted meaning and twist it into a vague, nebulous, and essentially useless form
4) Provide little training and not nearly enough TIME for teachers to develop substantial science programs. Be sure to include a fleet of clueless consultants to confuse and confound elementary teachers while misrepresenting the fundamental goals of scientific literacy
5) Provide limited funding for science supplies, equipment, and facilities
6) Flood the market with crappy, canned science and engineering activities and projects – and even worse, computer/online programs – all developed by non-teachers.
7) Write and administer abstract, confusing, jargon saturated, skills-centric, content weak, K to 12 science tests based on said standards (in your ivory tower).
NGSS is another Common Core-like disaster in the making; another “implementation” failure just waiting to happen. Like every new idea proposed by outsiders, they can look good on paper (although not so with NGSS) but there will NEVER, ever be sufficient TIME allotted to teachers to make them work with real kids in real classrooms. I see NGSS as a Trojan Horse filled with consultants, code writers, test developers, publishers, privatizers, and corporatists foaming at the mouth at yet another opportunity to pillage and plunder public school resources.
Nancy Bailey says
This is a great rundown. Thank you for posting!
NY Teacher says
I am appalled at the indifference I encounter regarding the NGSS disruption. This major re-tooling of science instruction, K to 12, is a disaster in the making. Unless, of course, you are marketing solutions to the problems conveniently created by you.
Here in NYS we have been told that science can longer be taught as lists of isolated facts; that we need to help kids learn to think like scientists, to ask them to make connections, blah, blah, blah. The typical CC laundry list of misrepresentations.
The push to integrate subjects K to 8 is founded on the ridiculous conflation of how professional scientists “do science” and how we expect 5 -14 year old children to “learn science”.
This is one of the most disturbing aspects of NGSS. And who would have guessed that this “integrated” instruction model is being supported by a research paper from Achieve! Think about how this relegates thousands of middle level lab programs, equipment. and textbooks virtually obsolete. And, wonder of wonders, they can sell us all that we need to make NGSS “successful” in the classroom – without a shred of evidence or data! They’re convinced they have magically re-invented proper science instruction, just because they got a room full of s0-called experts together.. This is wrong on so many levels.
The other very troubling aspect of NGSS is a return to the constructivist/discovery approach to learning science. Again, there is plenty of research and experience that has refuted this
approach to teaching. In my (38 years) classroom experience, most kids appreciate a knowledgeable and interesting “Sage on the Sage” – and they are really put off by the “Guide on the Side” they facilitates their “discoveries”. A large scale approach to “discovery science” is bound to FAIL.
Please continue to sound the alarm on this Phase II, Common Core takeover. Thanks for being a lone voice in the wilderness.
Cannot begin to thank you enough.
NY Teacher says
Here is an article that debunks “Constructivist/Discovery Learning Theory” – the very foundation of the Next Generation Science Standards. Think about the scale at which this “Discovery” debacle will negatively affect science instruction in the US. Tens of millions of children will be lead down a path of confusion, frustration, and wasted time. And hundreds of thousands of elementary teachers completely unaware of this misguided approach to teaching science will blindly follow the NGSS cheerleaders.
An article excerpt:
“The discovery-learning myth has been adopted all around the world, by both educators and laypeople, primarily because discovery learning sounds so logical (in theory). Unfortunately, there is an incredibly large corpus of research showing that (1) minimally instructive methods tax the learner’s cognitive resources to such a large extent that learning is impeded, (2) solving problems in a domain requires first and foremost knowledge of/in that domain, (3) solving problems without the necessary prerequisite domain knowledge is difficult if not impossible and often leads to warped/twisted ‘knowledge’, misconceptions, and poor/weak problem-solving approaches, and (4) while inquiry is a fundamental method of scientists (because a scientist is someone who ‘knows’ and whom is in search of new knowledge), it is not a good learning method for most learners because most learners are not ‘junior scientists’. They simply don’t know enough to do good inquiry.”
Aveesh Kumar says
@NY Teacher. Thanks for nailing it on the head. NGSS starts by a false presumption of negating all that anyone have achieved – and how they achieved it. First nd foremost is the subject – specific content and then use cross cutting to make it more useful. How to think like a scientist (who did not use cross cutting content poor curriculum) will lead to confused students who do not even care about the content
Teachers who are subject specific experts now have to hunt around on the internet to cross cut to teach a standard and do things differently just so the school can push a new way – which “sounds” good superficially!
I am just a very interested parent of a HS student.
Joe Simpson says
Sorry, you lost me when you said that physics and chemistry are not included. If you know that little about NGSS, you are woefully unqualified to critique them. Put your anti-standards kool-aid down and READ. Many of us who support NGSS also disapprove of Common Core.
Nancy Bailey says
I don’t just think these things up, Joe. You might want to check my references. And I am not anti-standards completely. Just the ones that mess with teachers and public schools and are meant to lead to fewer teachers and more unbridled tech.
I will change it to “almost missing especially in high school where these subjects are critical to any student considering a career in science!”
Here is Tultican https://tultican.com/2015/11/12/ngss-is-science-education-plague/
“NGSS writers posited that chemistry and physics principles like Newton’s laws, the gas laws, and atomic structure would be so thoroughly apprehended by 8th grade, that it would not be necessary to teach them in high school. In high school, student are to create reports and videos that explain the energy transformations behind global warming and how Darwin’s laws of evolution correctly explain the development of life. There are almost no high school chemistry or physics standards in NGSS.”
Or here https://whatiscommoncore.wordpress.com/2018/01/18/ten-reasons-to-flee-ngss-common-core-science-standards/
“This means dissolving distinct classes in biology, chemistry, physics, etc., as we know them today, to be replaced by conceptually-based (not math based) integrated science. At every grade level, children will be taught a watery version of these integrated subjects. This dilutes the expertise of teachers, too, who must change from teaching the richness of biology or chemistry or physics, to teaching a simplified, mostly mathless, conceptual mix of all the science subjects integrated at all grade levels.”
There’s more to read by simply looking online. Thanks for commenting and making me double check myself.
Also, NGSS is really out of Common Core though I believe they included more credible people in devising the standards.