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What is NGSS? A Brief History

Posted by Francis Vigeant on Feb 7, 2016

The Next Generation Science Standards started in the early 2000s, and the groundwork was laid for their development even before that.

ngss-title.jpgThe movement began with a report published by the Carnegie Corporation, published in 2009 and entitled “The Opportunity Equation: Transforming Mathematics and Science Education for the Global Economy.”

The Carnegie Corporation’s report, The Opportunity Equation, gave rise to a 2011 National Research Council publication entitled “Successful K-12 STEM Education: Identifying Effective Approaches in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics.” This report holds that science, technology, engineering, and mathematics are crucial cultural achievements that affect our economy, our humanity and the standards of our lives.

This report in turn formed a backbone of the rationale for Next Generation Science Standards.

The focus of the Carnegie report was arguing for mathematics and science education as engines for democracy. Unlike the motivation behind the Common Core, this report steers clear of taking global competitiveness as the prime motivator, and instead uses as inspiration true innovation and the need to prepare future innovators for work in STEM fields.

The report begins by speaking to the historical magnitude of mathematics and science in our culture, then explains that:

In the post-Cold-War world of the 21st century, when we have entered into a new phase of globalization characterized by knowledge-based economies and fierce competition, the United States can no longer afford not to be fully engaged with math and science and their application to teaching and learning.
It was in this spirit that, in 2007, Carnegie Corporation of New York joined with the Institute for Advanced Study to create a commission, comprised of some of our nation’s most distinguished mathematicians, scientists, educators, scholars, business leaders, and public officials, to assess not only the current state of math and science education in the U.S. but also how to enhance the capacity of our schools and universities to generate innovative strategies across all fields that will increase access to high-quality education for every student in every classroom.
If we believe, as the great education reformer Horace Mann did, that “education is the engine of democracy,” then the strength and progress of both American society and our democracy depend on.

This is really the point at which the Next Generation Science Standards were born. The individuals coming together around this are not policy makers, or solely policy makers. They are not solely educators. This was not the product of a couple of interest groups.

Rather, NGSS came directly out of the views of those that built STEM industry, the people who are already innovating in this way.

The people who are part of the National Academies of Science and Engineering and the National Institute of Health. From there, “The Opportunity Equation” sparked an interest by the National Research Council, which is the staff side of the National Academies of Science and Engineering.

Ultimately, the Next Generation Science Standards are a result of the second report, “Successful K-12 STEM Education,” which endeavored to use “The Opportunity Equation” as a model around which they might develop real, implementable standards for use in the classroom.

The hope is that the high-minded nature of the Next Generation Science Standards’ origin will help avoid some of the backlash that Common Core brought on itself through muddy or defensive communication. Moreover, the full engagement with science and math is a prime principle of NGSS.

The hope is that these standards (and the curriculum that is built onto them) can help students learn and engage in ways that help them deeply, truly become effective, efficient members of the workforce in later years.

Image source: nap.edu

Topics: NGSS, Next Generation Science Standards, STEM

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