NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Next Generation Science Standards Make Progress in School Districts, not states

May 11, 2015

While statewide adoptions of the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) continue to prove slow and steady, some districts are jumping the gun on their states and starting to bring the new standards to classrooms as soon as possible.

So far, just 13 states and the District of Columbia have formally adopted the standards. Many states have been too tied up with the Common Core State Standards to consider adopting new science benchmarks. In other states, such as West Virginia and Wyoming, controversial language in the science standards regarding evolution and climate change have waylaid adoption.

But in states such as Florida, Missouri, Nebraska and Pennsylvania, which have not yet adopted the standards—and may never do so in totality—some districts are moving ahead with the Next Generation Science Standards anyway.

  • In Hillsborough County, Fla., which serves 200,000 students and is one of the largest districts in the state, elementary teachers have been incorporating inquiry and engineering-design challenges, based on the common science standards, into their instruction for nearly two years.
  • In Neshaminy, Pa., the district has taken a slow approach to implementing the Next Generation Science Standards as well. This year, 6th grade teachers are using them; next year, the district will add 7th grade teachers; then 8th.
  • In Wyoming, the state initially passed a law forbidding their adoption altogether but has since ended the ban—as many as 15 districts are using the NGSS.

One problem with implementing the Next Generation Science Standards in a state that has not yet adopted them is that the end-of-year science assessments are likely still linked to the state's existing standards. State summative tests tend not to use the hands-on, inquiry approach that the NGSS promote. But some educators say they are not too worried about that wrinkle.

Source: Liana Heitin, "Districts Out Ahead of States in Adopting Science Standards," Education Week, May 5, 2015.


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