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How the Release of Responsibility Timeline Plays Into Science

Posted by Francis Vigeant on Dec 28, 2016

Thinking about things like the release of responsibility, you have to deploy materials in a streamlined, consistent fashion over the course of the year in all classrooms teaching the units. If you just split them up and let everybody test one thing at a time when they feel like it, the feedback you get will not be useful. It will be based on a collection of single experiences rather than a controlled sampling of data.

Release of responsibility stages

The full release of responsibility happens in three stages, ensuring that students eventually develop the capacity to engage with material on their own for the majority of the year.

Therefore, every classroom teacher has to prioritize following the specific stages that guide release of responsibility. This is defined by three distinct milestones, illustrated above. From September through November, the goal is to develop the STEM Practice Skills with the goal of independent proficiency with the practices. From then until January, the goal becomes refining students' performance of expectations with the goal of developing their independent proficiency with the science and engineering processes. Lastly, the teacher works toward extending the students' performance of the expectations with the goal of cultivating the creative, evaluative and analytical thinking skills they will need later in life.

The three specific stages of release, on the other hand, are collaborative in September, collaborative to independent in October and November, and independent with check-ins from December through June.

If a district does not test materials in a consistent, reliable and replicable fashion, with a specific and dependable timeline for the release of responsibility, it will be difficult to get the kind of data needed to determine whether or not the curriculum meets the performance expectations set by Next Generation Science Standards.

Review & reviseProfessional development & training

The review and revise phase involves taking what you've learned and reworking that creation to better meet NGSS standards. Lastly, professional development and training is taking what you've created and figuring out how you are going to deploy it to the rest of your district. It's important to make sure understanding and fidelity to the program exists across the board and to create mechanisms to receive continuous feedback throughout and across the years.

It's likely obvious by now that in order to create an effective curriculum, it's necessary to grasp a range of elements simultaneously. This includes how the three dimensions interact, how performance expectations are networked both horizontally and vertically and get turned into units, and how you create teams to address these needs from the initial ideation period to the final professional development training period. These requirements aren't going to be free, especially if you decide to design curriculum yourself.

Many educators want to leave the subject at that: It's going to cost too much money, so we shouldn't do it. The budget is tight already, et cetera, et cetera. But the truth is, if you look hard at what you're already spending and compare that realistically to what it costs to implement real STEM curriculum that helps students meet performance expectations, you can do the latter for less. This might seem unbelievable to districts embroiled in the age-old 7-year textbook cycle, but it's a fact, which we'll talk about in a future blog post.

Topics: Next Generation Science Standards

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