The Next Generation Science Standards

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The United States Department of Education is committed to ensuring that all students have access to a quality Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) education (“Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math”, n.d.). Despite this commitment, reports indicate a decline in STEM proficiency as well as a lack of qualified teachers to respond to the deficiency (Holdren, Lander, & Varmus, 2009). The lack of qualified STEM teachers has resulted in critical shortage areas in many districts across the United States, prompting policy reform allowing alternative certification pathways to alleviate shortages (“Alternative Routes”, n.d.). Even with a reduction in critical shortage areas, preliminary reports continue to show little or no…show more content…
The Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) were presented in 2013 as a response to the need for rigorous standards reflective of current STEM culture. The NGSS define the disciplinary core ideas, science and engineering practices, and crosscutting concepts between each of the four science domains (NGSS Lead States, 2013). The three interrelated areas emphasize solid content knowledge exercised in real-world application. While these standards can potentially raise the classroom’s current rigor, they are still in the beginning phases of implementation (“Next Generation Science Standards”, 2016). In addition, the logistics of transitioning to radically new standards are both a financial and time constraint in most school…show more content…
Stewart (2014) also proposes a shift from professional development to professional learning, an ongoing job-embedded, data-driven concept that creates a learning culture; accordingly, ongoing professional learning is a necessary strategy with science knowledge changing at a faster rate than textbooks are being replaced. While options such as job-embedded professional development is a possible solution to time constraints, additional teacher requirements have the potential to become detrimental, limiting time to plan rigorous, engaging lessons and provide timely student feedback. It is also possible that data derived in STEM classrooms is skewed due to lack of student effort and extraneous variables such as reading level, prerequisite knowledge, and poor class attendance, limiting the overall affect of data-driven activities. Learning Forward (2015) is an organization formed to “build the capacity of leaders to establish and sustain highly effective professional learning” (para. 1). While creating a definition of professional development, seven key standards were identified for effective professional learning. These standards include: 1. Professional Learning Communities: Effective professional development utilizes communities of educators “committed to continuous
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