California Issues Draft NGSS Framework for Revising Science Ed

The state of California has adopted a revised science framework intended to help its public schools transform instruction to mesh with the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). It claims to be the first state to do so. The framework offers guidance to educators and science content publishers on how to teach the standards in K-12.

The revision work kicked off in 2013 when state legislators approved adoption of changes to science education that incorporated NGSS. From there the State Board of Education recruited a focus group from among local education agencies, science, higher education and other "stakeholder" organizations to develop a framework for guiding the transition. A draft was issued in 2015 for public review, then again in 2016. In total, about 3,000 public comments were considered during the drafting process.

The new framework expands and refines coverage of climate change and adds engineering, environmental literacy and strategies to support girls and young women in science. It also encourages the teacher-as-facilitator model, in which he or she poses questions and students conduct experiments and projects to make discoveries.

Among the examples provided, middle school students tackle an engineering challenge in which they divert rainwater away from road surfaces, where it can pick up pollutants. Another middle school challenge encourages students to graph fish populations under global warming scenarios. At the high school level chemistry students examine the impact of the increasing acidification of the world's oceans and develop potential remedies.

"Science education is undergoing a renaissance that began with the adoption of California's Next Generation Science Standards in 2013 and advances today with a Science Framework that will guide teaching," said State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson, in a statement. Torlakson began his own career as a high school science teacher in the 1970s.

"This framework will help our students become the scientists and technology leaders of the future as well as citizens who are knowledgeable and understanding of the natural world and the environment," he added. "It will also help produce the well-educated, innovative workers needed by all of our employers, but especially our high-tech companies, which are some of the most advanced companies humankind has ever seen."

During 2017, the state's Department of Education will present science framework "rollout" events to help teachers and principals start preparing for the adoption of the new standards. Next spring, the state will run a pilot test of a new assessment based on the learning standards. By 2018 the state expects to develop a list of recommended NGSS-compliant textbooks and other content.

The draft framework is available on the Department of Education website here.

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal and Campus Technology. She can be reached at or on Twitter @schaffhauser.

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