Washington to Lead Effort to Develop New Science Standards
OLYMPIA — September 20, 2011 — Washington has been chosen as one of the lead states to develop the Next Generation Science Standards, which will clearly define the content and skills students will need to learn from kindergarten through 12th grade, it was announced by Achieve today.
The Next Generation Science Standards, or NGSS, is a state-led process where members of 20 lead states will guide the standard writing process, gather and deliver feedback from state-level committees and come together to address common issues and challenges. Achieve, an education reform non-profit organization, is managing the NGSS process.
Although Washington recently adopted new science learning standards, the NGSS will build on the current standards, similar to what is happening with the Common Core State Standards in English-language arts and math, State Superintendent Randy Dorn said.
“I wanted our state to be an active partner in this effort and not be on the sidelines,” Dorn said. “Our current science standards are strong, but I believe they will become even better if we are involved with some of the best science minds participating in the development of NGSS.
“Since I took office, I have stressed the need for more quality science instruction at every grade, not just the grades where we test science as a state. We need to hire teachers with science backgrounds and place the same emphasis on science education that we do with reading, writing and math, especially in elementary school.”
The NGSS will have a focus on the sciences and engineering, where students, over multiple years, will actively engage in science and engineering practices to deepen their understanding of the core ideas. Jobs in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math, or STEM, are growing faster than all industries, creating a demand for workers with a STEM background.
“To succeed in today's globally competitive and technologically-rich society, our kids need a robust and inspiring foundation in science, technology, engineering and math,” said Julia Novy-Hildesley, chief executive officer at Washington STEM, a statewide education organization focused on spurring innovation in effective STEM teaching and learning. “The Next Generation Science Standards offer an opportunity to strengthen and advance a shared vision for student success in STEM.”
The development of the Next Generation Science Standards is a two-step process. The first step was the building of a framework that identified the core ideas and practices in natural sciences and engineering that all students should be familiar with by the time they graduate. In July, the National Research Council released A Framework for K-12 Science Education, developed by a committee representing expertise in science, teaching and learning, curriculum, assessment and education policy.
The second step is the development of science standards based on the NRC’s framework. In addition to guiding the standard writing process, Washington has agreed to commit staff time and to give serious consideration to adopting the Next Generation Science Standards, a draft of which likely won’t be released until late 2012.
“As a world leader in industries with science at their foundation, it’s only fitting that Washington state helps lead the effort to establish the next generation of science standards,” said U.S. Rep. Jay Inslee (District 1), a Bainbridge Island resident who has long been an advocate for increased science education. “Washington’s economy – from our industry technology and aviation giants, to our research institutions, to our innovative startups – depends on having the nation’s brightest and best well educated in science fields.”
A recent U.S. Department of Commerce study shows that over the past 10 years, growth in STEM jobs was three times greater than that of non-STEM jobs. The report also shows that STEM jobs are expected to continue to grow at a faster rate than other jobs in the coming decade.
The lead states for NGSS are: Arizona, California, Georgia, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Tennessee, Vermont, Washington and West Virginia.
For more information on the Next Generation Science Standards, please visit www.nextgenscience.org.
The Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) is the primary agency charged with overseeing K-12 education in Washington state. Led by State School Superintendent Randy Dorn, OSPI works with the state’s 295 school districts and nine Educational Service Districts to administer basic education programs and implement education reform on behalf of more than one million public school students.
OSPI does not discriminate and provides equal access to its programs and services for all persons without regard to race, color, gender, religion, creed, marital status, national origin, sexual preference/orientation, age, veteran’s status or the presence of any physical, sensory or mental disability.
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