17 Reasons Why the NGSS Science Framework Was Developed

Updated on November 17th, 2023. 

The Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) were released in 2013. They are research-based K–12 science content standards that aim to improve science education for all students. These Next Generation learning standards are a critical component in many STEM curriculums.

In this article you will learn when the NGSS Framework was created and who took part in the comprehensive, multi-year development process. This effort was led by states across the country, and included feedback from diverse stakeholders, including education professionals, scientists, and the public. As teaching professionals, by developing a more robust understanding of how and why the NGSS standards were developed, we can better understand the importance of implementing them in the classroom and engaging our students to think like scientists and engineers when learning STEM. 


When Did the NGSS Start? 

The NGSS standards were developed by professionals in 26 states, including technical experts in the areas of science, engineering, teaching and learning, curriculum development, and assessment. Throughout the process, which took place from 2010-2013, the public was also asked to review and provide feedback to the NGSS framework.

A diverse group of teaching professionals, members of the business community, and public policy experts from each of the states also contributed extensively to the effort. Stakeholders like these provide input at multiple stages throughout the development of NGSS, with the final standards released in 2013.  Since then, more than 40 states, representing more than a third of the students in the U.S., are using or considering applying the NGSS standards. 

The Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) were released in April of 2013. 

Who Created the NGSS?

Development of the NGSS science framework was a multi-year, state-led effort. This comprehensive process included support from national organizations, including the National Research Council, American Association for the Advancement of Science, and National Science Teachers Association – as well as other nonprofits, the public, and additional stakeholders. 

Within each of the 26 states that participated in the NGSS development process, teachers and faculty, higher education professionals, and policy leaders also had the chance to provide feedback. In addition, scientists and science organizations, engineering professionals, and business leaders were also invited to participate in the process. Bringing together the collective experience and knowledge of organizations and individuals from across the country was a huge effort, resulting in teaching standards that embody the diversity, technical expertise, innovative ideas, and professional experience of our nation’s STEM leaders and teaching professionals.

17 Reasons Why the NGSS Science Framework Was Developed

To effectively implement the NGSS science framework, educators should understand the intent behind these Next Generation learning standards. The insights will allow you to create a robust NGSS STEM curriculum that helps your students get the most of NGSS's three-dimensional approach.

Here are the key drivers behind the creation of the NGSS science framework:

1. Set Common Standards

NGSS provides a proven framework and a common set of standards to guide the teaching of STEM subjects in the U.S. The Next Generation learning standards ensure that every student has access to an internationally benchmarked science education while helping teachers and parents set the right expectations.

2. Foster Interest in STEM Subjects

An NGSS STEM curriculum combats a lack of knowledge in scientific topics. It engages students early in their education and helps them develop a greater interest in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. It also aims to encourage more students to study these subjects in college.

3. Promote Core Scientific Concepts

The NGSS science framework sets the foundation for students to understand core scientific concepts, such as the scientific process of developing and testing ideas. It helps students gain the ability to evaluate scientific evidence, adopt scientific thinking in everyday life, and cultivate a lifelong interest in science and technology.

4. Improve Classroom Experience

The Next Generation learning standards give educators the flexibility to design hands-on classroom learning experiences that engage students, increase participation, stimulate their interest in STEM subjects, and prepare them for higher education.

5. Link Different Domains of Science

The crosscutting dimension of the NGSS science framework forms a bridge between science and engineering disciplines through "crosscutting ideas" or "themes." These ideas help students deepen their understanding of science and engineering concepts and develop a scientific understanding of the world around them. For example, students can test causal relationships to explain change (cause and effect) when observing and measuring the rate of soil erosion on a hillside by water and wind.

6. Support Critical Thinking

The NGSS science framework connects scientific inquiries inside the classroom with abstract reasoning, problem-solving, and critical thinking — essential skills that students can apply to various challenges they face In STEM and in life. Thinking helps students become better prepared for college, their careers, and their roles as citizens.

7. Develop Important Life Skills

A high-quality NGSS STEM curriculum helps students develop an in-depth understanding of content and critical skills outside of science education. These include communication, collaboration, inquiry, data analysis, and flexibility, which will support them throughout their educational and professional lives.

8. Eliminate "Teaching to the Test"

The Next Generation learning standards shift the focus from memorizing scientific facts to the practical application of scientific concepts so students can translate knowledge into applied situations. An NGSS STEM curriculum encourages students to spend more time developing depth of knowledge in big ideas by posing questions and experimenting and investigating to find the answers.

9. Encourage Real-World Application of Scientific Principles

The NGSS science framework combines knowledge with practice by anchoring all learning in real world phenomenon, teaching students how to develop and evaluate ideas based on scientific principles. The process of inquiry and explanation helps students develop an appreciation of these principles and how science applies to everyday life.

10. Build Continuity into the Educational Experience

NGSS focuses on a small number of disciplinary core ideas that students can build upon as they progress from elementary to high school by revisiting important concepts and expanding their understanding and skill development over time. This means that students should have a greater capacity for connecting concepts across and between scientific domains each year.

11. Develop a Positive Attitude Toward STEM

The NGSS science framework helps young students develop a positive attitude toward STEM subjects by engaging them with exciting material and experiences. It motivates them to learn and pursue the sciences from an early elementary age and helps them develop the lifelong skill to generate ideas, understand data, make informed decisions, and understand the evidence behind public policymaking.

12. Prepare Students for Meaningful Careers

STEM careers are in high demand. From developing new medicines to tackling climate change, these jobs are critical to our society. The NGSS science framework helps prepare students for the global economy. They can pursue diverse career paths that are not only fulfilling but also critical to our economy.

13. Developing Depth of Knowledge

The NGSS standards are a K-12 system allowing for STEM curriculum to be taught and learned across multiple grades and levels of sophistication. This allows students to connect scientific knowledge with social and personal experiences over many lessons and years. Depth of knowledge grows as students identify problems, ask questions, develop hypotheses, test their models, and make evidence-based arguments across different domains and phenomena.

14. Help Students Navigate Key Life Decisions

The larger goal of the Next Generation learning standards is to build a solid 3d foundation in STEM subjects, which prepares students for post-secondary life. The knowledge can help them navigate everything from personal decisions such as healthcare and financial planning to global issues such as climate change, food shortages, and energy disasters.

15. Combat Misinformation and Disinformation

By adopting science-based standards, NGSS helps students become thoughtful consumers of scientific information by applying evidence-based reasoning. This is an essential skill when we need to navigate conflicting information from a myriad of sources to make important decisions.

16. Provide Equal Opportunities

The NGSS, which details clear performance objectives for all learners, is more than a guideline for educators. It offers families the sense of security that students of all socioeconomic backgrounds and life experiences will be given the same opportunity to develop their potential, regardless of their identity or where they live. The Next Generation learning standards not only set a high bar for performance, they prepare students for increased opportunities in college and beyond.

17. Maintain the U.S.'s Global Leader Position

An NGSS STEM curriculum helps the United States cultivate future adult leaders ready to innovate and lead competitive businesses and academic institutions. Students with a solid science education will enable the country to develop new standards that solve the world's most pressing and complex issues.

Empower Your Students with the NGSS Curriculum

Learn more about our NGSS curriculum, which prepares teachers with NGSS science curriculums and kits that excite and engage students hands-on as they work toward mastery of NGSS in the classroom. We'd love to talk with you about your curriculum questions.

Image source: nap.edu

Next Generation Science PD Session Resources for Teachers