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Next Generation Science Standards

Delaware is one of 26 states that helped develop the Next Generation Science Standards in 2013, joining other states in the movement to provide a deeper, more rigorous learning experience for students. Like the Common Core State Standards, these standards set higher expectations and goals for learning and align expectations across state lines.

The Next Generation Science Standards set expectations for what students should know by the end of every grade level in the four domains of science: physical science; life science; earth and space science; and engineering, technology and science application. In 2010, the National Research Council, in partnership with science educators and experts from around the nation, developed the framework for the Next Generation Science Standards. From there, 26 states, including Delaware, collaboratively developed these higher expectations and goals, which were finalized in April 2013.

Key Facts and Common Questions

Through a collaborative, state-led process, new K–12 science standards were developed that are rich in content and practice and arranged in a coherent manner across disciplines and grades to provide all students an internationally benchmarked science education. The Next Generation Science Standards are based on the Framework for K–12 Science Education developed by the National Research Council.

It has been more than 15 years since state science education standards’ guiding documents were developed. Since that time, many advances have occurred in the fields of science and science education, as well as in the innovation-driven economy.

The United States has a leaky K–12 STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) talent pipeline, with too few students entering STEM majors and careers at every level — from those with relevant postsecondary certificates to PhD degrees. We needed new science standards that stimulate and build interest in STEM.

We can’t successfully prepare students for college, careers and citizenship unless we set the right expectations and goals. Although standards alone are no silver bullet, they do provide the necessary foundation for local decisions about curriculum, assessments and instruction.

Improved K–12 science standards better prepare high school graduates for the rigors of college and careers. In turn, employers will be able to hire workers with strong science-based skills — including not only specific content areas, but also skills such as critical thinking and inquiry-based problem solving.

Each of the Next Generation Science Standards has three dimensions: disciplinary core ideas (content), scientific and engineering practices, and cross-cutting concepts. Currently, most state and district standards express these dimensions as separate entities, leading to their separation in both instruction and assessment. The integration of rigorous content and application reflects how science is practiced in the real world.

Science and engineering practices and cross-cutting concepts are designed so they are not taught in a vacuum; the standards encourage integration with multiple core concepts throughout each year.

Science concepts will build coherently across K–12. The emphasis of the Next Generation Science Standards is a focused and coherent progression of knowledge from grade band to grade band, allowing for a dynamic process of building knowledge throughout a student’s entire K–12 scientific education.

The Next Generation Science Standards focus on a smaller set of disciplinary core ideas that all students should know by the time they graduate from high school — focus involving deeper understanding and application of content than the often fact-driven standards that states and districts previously used.

The next generation of statewide science assessments in Delaware will go beyond multiple choice and short answer questions to allow students to demonstrate true scientific literacy. These assessments may include models where students manipulate materials and data offline, and then provide responses on a computerized platform. This new approach to science testing allows educators to more accurately assess student learning and informs student needs in the path to true science mastery.

The new assessments will replace the Delaware Comprehensive Assessment System (DCAS) Science assessments. They will launch in grades 5, 8 and in high school biology in the 2018-19 school year. End-of-unit assessments for subsequent grades are expected to be launched in stages from 2019-20 through 2020-21. For more information, visit the NGSS Assessment page.

Yes, the Next Generation Science Standards are a set of standards that provide learning expectations for students at each grade level. How those standards are taught is still a local decision made by teachers, school leaders, administrators and school board members. Each school and district has the flexibility and control to set the curriculum that best meets the needs of its students.

The Next Generation Science Standards are a set of clear and higher academic standards that communicate shared goals and expectations for the knowledge and skills students should have at every grade level. Standards are different from curriculum or lesson plans. While the Next Generation Science Standards set high expectations for what students should know, they do not set a lesson plan or tell teachers how to teach.

A curriculum is made up of teaching and learning materials that teachers use to help construct their day-to-day lesson plans. With the Next Generation Science Standards, teachers still create their specific lesson plans and are better able to personalize instruction to meet the needs of every student in their classroom.

Because the Next Generation Science Standards connect learning within and across grades, teachers are able to work more effectively across content areas and grades.

No, the Delaware government does not collect personal information about its students because doing so is illegal. Any information tying a student to their educational data cannot be sold or released to anyone without parental consent. Federal law protects the privacy of student information and educational records through the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA).