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About Next Generation Science Standards

The current National Science Education Standards were produced by the National Research Council (NRC) in 1995-1996.  These form the basis for science standards in nearly all states.  In 2010 NRC began the process of revising the 1996 Standards under the name Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) (  NRC admits that the impetus for this revision came from the Common Core standards movement:

This project [NGSS] capitalizes on a major opportunity that exists at this moment – a large number of states are adopting common standards in mathematics and English/language arts and thus are poised to consider adoption of common standards in K-12 science education.

NGSS is a partnership including the NRC, the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA), the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), Achieve, Inc. (a national education reform organization), and currently 26 states (Iowa being one).  NGSS was a two-step process. The first was the development of A Framework for K-12 Science Education. The second step was writing the Standards. The final Standards can be accessed on the NGSS website.

The following documents offer more information about the Next Generation Science Standards.

Climate Change Science Poised to Enter Nation’s Classrooms
New national science standards firmly embed global warming in the public school curriculum and are likely to curtail climate-alarm skepticism among students, reports Bloomberg Businessweek. Major textbook publishers expect some 40 states to adopt the standards. They are already incorporating into science curricula the standards’ emphasis on manmade environmental dangers, so states that don’t adopt the standards will likely end up using the Common Core science curriculum anyway..

Chemistry, Physics, Biology Groups Respond to Science Standards
Although the Common Core draft science standards have improved, science teachers and organizations say, many weaknesses remain, Education Week reports. This includes a lack of math content and specificity, missing chemistry concepts, and extremely unwieldy language. Many people interviewed worried most elementary teachers cannot handle the science emphasis, as many do not have a strong science background.

A Science Teacher’s View: The Backward-Engineered Common Core Science Standards
A teacher who worked on her state’s science standards with the Common Core brigade explains how the process shortchanged learning in favor of creating lists of testing items. The standards aim to teach children a disconnected collection of things to memorize for state tests rather than a cohesive understanding of science and the world. She concludes the science standards would damage science education in the United States.

Whose Next Generation of Science Standards?
This article reviews the history of science standards in the United States and discusses the background of the Common Core science standards. Its author, Jack Hassard, argues the standards represent a cadre of elites pushing their agenda on the rest of the country.

Public School Science Standards: Political or Pure?
In this lecture at the 24th Annual Educational Policy Conference of the Constitutional Coalition in St. Louis, Dr. E. Calvin Beisner lists three major concerns he has over how the forthcoming Common Core science standards treat evolution and climate change. He says the standards are not neutral toward religion, which will lead to indoctrination, not education; fail to distinguish historical from experimental science; and fail to distinguish for students the various definitions of evolution, leading them to assume the word always denotes the same thing. The standards typify “post-normal” science — that is, the promotion of a political agenda under the guise of objective science, Beisner says.

Next Generation Science Standards Fall Flat
Common Core draft science standards do not include chemistry as a separate subject but instead distribute it throughout other subjects. In so doing, the standards drop essential science content, writes former chemistry professor and science editor Harry Keller. The standards also fail to require any chemistry labs, which is odd given their focus on experiential learning, and entirely distort the point of science, which is learning from tested experience. Its format pushes a teaching method similar to that of the failed 1940s progressive science that focused not on learning but on the “social, personal, and vocational needs of the student,” he writes.

Commentary & Feedback on Draft II of the Next Generation Science Standards
Scientists, mathematicians, and curriculum experts reviewing the second Common Core draft science standards conclude they are vague, omit large sections of crucial content, and emphasize failed progressive pedagogy over the actual science knowledge students need. The authors give examples of the many crucial omissions, such as acids and bases in chemistry. They believe the standards would burden and confuse teachers rather than providing a useful, clear framework for teaching what students should learn in science classes. The standards confusingly expand ineffective ways of learning science and compress the actual knowledge essential for student success, the authors conclude.

Citizens for Object Public Education (COPE)’s Statement of Final Release: COPE Recommends Against Science Standards

While NGSS is not an official part of the Common Core State Standards Initiative, the science standards were clearly written to “align” and “cohere” with existing Common Core Mathematics and English Language Arts standards. Common Core has been adopted by 45 states. If science and social studies follow this trend, then we can expect almost all public education in the U.S. to be controlled by a few people at the national level. Parents, students, taxpayers, and even state and local officials will likely have little influence over the ideas and worldviews that children will be exposed to in school.

We encourage those who may be alarmed by this prospect to educate themselves on the issues and then urge their state boards of education and legislatures to reject adoption of the NGSS Framework and Standards.

Heartland Institute responds to final draft of Next Generation Science Standards.

The Heartland Institute, based in Chicago, IL released a statement from James Taylor, their senior fellow for Enviromental Policy, who expressed his concern.  “The Next Generation Science Standards convey an anti-human message regarding human activities, population growth, and environmental impacts that is not scientifically justified. They certainly convey an environmental activist bias,”  Taylor said.  “These final Standards are an improvement over earlier draft versions, and are not as environmentally radical as many other proposed curricula and standards I have seen. Nevertheless, being somewhat better than environmentally radical propaganda is not the same as being objective, balanced, and scientifically accurate.”

The Heartland Institute has produced two volumes – Climate Change Reconsidered, and Climate Change Reconsidered: 2011 Interim Report – containing more than 1,000 pages of peer-reviewed studies questioning the “consensus” that a man-made climate change crisis is a plausible scenario.

Joy Pullmann, research fellow and managing editor of School Reform News at The Heartland Institute, also expressed concern.  She said, “Although the final draft of the Common Core science standards is much improved over the previous two drafts, it is still objectionable for two main reasons. The first is that it pushes scientific activities on students while stripping much of the knowledge base essential for science and scientific literacy, which research has shown is a failed teaching method. Children need both core knowledge and practical experience in every subject.”

Pullmann continued, “The second failure is that the standards impose alarmist global warming ideas on children from kindergarten forward, and assume people are a net negative for the Earth while ignoring the truth that humans have both positive and negative effects on the environment. This manifests itself in standards attempting to tell children that overpopulation is a grave danger, a 1970s false alarm that has been thoroughly debunked.”

Fordham Institute gives the Next Generation Science Standards’ Final Draft a C.