Reviewing the NGSS can be an overwhelming task, particularly if you do not have a significant amount of time to do so. This post provides suggestions that may be helpful to encourage quality input to the standards. Individuals may review only a portion of the standards but collectively many people across the state will have contributed to the review of the entire document.
In your review I encourage you to:
- remember that standards are an articulation of desired student outcomes; standards are not an articulation of curriculum or instructional methodology; and
- comment on both specific standards (performance expectations) and broad design features or assumptions.
To pull this off, I suggest three key steps to effectively provide input: 1. Chose a focus; 2. Collaborate and discuss with others (if possible); and 3. Provide input via the NGSS survey.
I. Choose a focus.
The NGSS is fairly lengthy and may be too much for one individual to review the entire set in the time available. Below are three suggestions for reviewing a subset of the NGSS document. You may want to review the survey questions (see III. below) and the broad design features or assumptions prior to doing your review.
Review the K-12 progression of standards through a particular core idea or topic.
For instance, review all the standards associated with the core idea Physical Science 1: Matter and its Interactions. Through all grades. This would include any standard aligned to PS1.A: Structure and Properties of Matter; PS1.B: Chemical Reactions; and PS1.C: Nuclear Processes in all grade levels. Alternatively, follow the progression of the topic Interdependent Relationships in Ecosystems (IRE). This would include all the standards in that topic through the grade spans.
Review the full set of standards (all disciplines) at a particular grade or grade span.
For instance, if you teach 5th grade science, you might review all the 5th grade topics: 5.SPM; 5.MEOE; 5.ESP; 5.SS. I recommend that you also review the same topics in grades 3 and 4 to understand and consider the progression of learning that leads to the grade 5 standards.
Review a particular discipline (LS, ESS, PS) at a grade span you are knowledgeable about.
For instance, if you are a 6-8 teacher, you might begin by looking at the 6-8 Life Science topics, including Structure and Properties of Matter, Chemical Reactions, Forces and Motion, Interactions and Forces, Energy, and Waves and Electromagnetic Radiation. Please review the similar topics for grades 3-5 to understand and consider the progression of learning that leads to the 6-8 standards.
II. Collaborate and discuss with others (if possible)
Everyone benefits from discussion their thoughts and reactions with others. If you review the NGSS individually, I encourage you to discuss your review with others. As you engage with your colleagues, please discuss both specific standards (performance expectations) and broad design features or assumptions.
The National Science Teachers Association provides one example of how to form study groups to discuss the second draft NGSS.
Whether you review the NGSS individually or with colleagues, the NGSS survey will allow you to indicate whether you are submitting an individual or organizational response.
III. Provide input via the NGSS survey.
Go to www.nextgenscience.org to access the survey. Detailed instructions for accessing, completing and submitting the survey will be available there. Please look for the sections of the survey that correspond to the sections you have reviewed. Also look for sections that ask for input on the overall NGSS or broader design features. Each section will have open comment boxes to include your thoughts not solicited in the specific questions.
Please complete the background information to indicate that you represent Maine, and whether you are responding as an individual or representing a group or organization. All responses that are submitted from Maine reviewers will be compiled by Achieve and returned to the Maine Department of Education. This feedback will be important to inform next steps here in the state.
Many thanks to Jake Foster of the Massachusetts DOE for his support with this post.