In adopting the Next Generation Science Standards, Connecticut (along with Michigan) officially brought the fraction of states who had done so up to one-third. The new Connecticut Science Standards will align with the Connecticut Common Core in Math and ELA, and will pave the way to teach students in classrooms all over the state how to think as scientists and engineers.
This might not look like what Americans have historically been used to, though. Rather than pre-programmed lessons that have a predefined outcome, students will prepare to do more hands-on problem-based science in coming years. Student opinions, interests and ideas will increasingly be the center of new Connecticut science curriculum, teaching them to think creatively and analytically, and generally helping students become scientifically literate citizens and next generation scientists and engineers of the future.
“It’s an exciting time for science teachers,” Richard Gagliardi, Bristol school district’s director of technology told the Bristol Press. The standards, which were adopted on November 4, 2015, will provide clear guidelines for what students must be able to know and demonstrate as a result of grade level instruction. In so doing, they will help address concerns raised by 21st century publications such as the The Opportunity Equation: Transforming Mathematics and Science Education for Citizenship and the Global Economy.
This report, which points out the failing of American students to keep up with their peers around the globe in math and science, opines that we must help our education system adapt to a STEM driven world.
“Just as our nation once transformed its school system to enable the shift from an agricultural to an industrial economy, we must reinvent our educational system again today, this time for a rapidly changing and increasingly technological global economy,” the report explains. “Math and science learning belong at the center of that transformation.”
Adopting these new science standards will not only help us replace a traditional model of instruction that was much better suited to the post-WWII era than it is to today’s, it will give students the opportunity to actually act as scientists and engineers in their own right. Engaging in the practices of science and engineering.
That’s because the Next Generation Science Standards are predicated on the idea that the nature of science and engineering is forward looking, a skills-based discipline that consists of extending knowledge and not merely memorizing past achievements. This also speaks to the need for K-12 standards which aim to prepare students to excel in higher education and career choices. These skills, are a tool to develop and use disciplinary core ideas (the subject material itself) and crosscutting concepts (the systems phenomena connecting disciplinary core ideas), preparing students to be creative thinkers and global citizens.
Over the next few years, educators will be transitioning their science and engineering curriculum as well as instructional techniques to align with NGSS across the state. The goal: engage in real-world applications of the standards and replace lower order thinking activities that simply require memorizing facts and figures. At the same time, science will become an integrated environment where students can actively access and use math and the English language in the way scientists and engineers do.
According to the Connecticut Department of Education, “A foundation in scientific literacy prepares students to be confident and capable lifelong learners who are equipped with the skills needed to access, understand, evaluate and apply information in various contexts. Regardless of their academic standing, all students should have access to a rich and challenging science curriculum that will promote scientific literacy, while inspiring and supporting advanced study and science-related careers.”
These new standards were adopted by unanimous vote, and represent a major step forward in science education. As of February 2016, more than 40 states had shown interest in the Next Generation Science Standards and were considering adopting them.
If you would like to see what Next Generation Connecticut-aligned science curriculum looks like, you should take a look at a sample of KnowAtom. We follow EQuIP science and PEEC alignment guidelines for all our NGSS-aligned CT science curriculum, and always strive to provide the best, most robust resources for both students and educators.