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FORDHAM EVALUATES WHAT WILL PROBABLY BECOME THE NATIONAL SCIENCE STANDARDS (NGSS)

Jun 14, 2013 by

6.3.13 — “Final Evaluation of the Next Generation Science Standards”– Thomas B. Fordham Institute:  http://edexcellencemedia.net/publications/2013/20130613-NGSS-Final-Review/20130612-NGSS-Final-Review.pdf

 

Appendix B, page 64 in the Fordham Evaluation Report gives the names and bios of the people who were involved in formulating its conclusions:   

http://edexcellencemedia.net/publications/2013/20130613-NGSS-Final-Review/20130612-NGSS-Final-Review.pdf

 

 

Quotes from the Fordham Evaluation Report that explain the purpose of their report:

In the wake of CCSS [Common Core State Standards], twenty-six states joined with Achieve to write college- and career readiness standards for science. These “Next Generation Science Standards” (NGSS) were built upon a “Framework for K–12 Science Education” that was issued in 2011 by the National Research Council (NRC), and they aim to do for science what the Common Core did for ELA and math: to define the content and skills that all students—in multiple states—must master across grades K–12 in order to be fully prepared to succeed in college-level coursework and in modern jobs and careers…

 

This is our third Fordham review of the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), this one based on the official, final version of NGSS as released by Achieve on April 9, 2013.

 

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To read the final version of the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) released by Achieve on April 9, 2013, please go to this link:  http://www.nextgenscience.org/next-generation-science-standards

 

 

To see who wrote the Next Generation Science Standards, please go to:  http://www.nextgenscience.org/writing-team

 

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One of the writers of the Fordham Report asked me for my opinion of their evaluations of the Next Generation of Science Standards (NGSS).  [NGSS will most likely become the Common Core Standards for Science.]

Donna Garner’s Comments:

Of course, science is not my area of expertise; but in reading through your Fordham evaluation of the NGSS standards, your team seems to have written a fair report that is built upon good teaching strategies. You have rightly applauded explicit, specific elements in standards and have criticized generic, broadly worded and general statements found in the NGSS.  You have also rightly pointed out the lack of scope and sequence that creates learning gaps in the NGSS standards as found particularly in those for earth and space science.

 

I agree that the assessment boundaries in the NGSS are needlessly restrictive. Teachers should be allowed to present advanced concepts in their lessons as they see fit just so long as the foundational concepts are adequately taught.

 

I particularly appreciated your discussion of college-ready and the importance of making sure that all students are equipped with sufficient core knowledge to be able to take advanced courses if they so choose. “Empty” physics and chemistry course standards will certainly not produce the type of STEM students that the United States so desperately needs.  After teaching for 33+ years, I know from first-hand experience that the bar must not be set low for students. Students can and will do amazing things when motivated and expected to do so.

 

One of the best things in your report is the criticism of the NGSS’s emphasis on process over knowledge-based content.  This is a prominent characteristic in most of the Common Core Standards (what I refer to as the Type #2 philosophy of education).  For instance in the CCS/ELA standards, there is little emphasis on the explicit teaching of grammar/usage/spelling/capitalization/punctuation. The emphasis instead is on the “process” of writing.  Without the tools (i.e., knowledge) with which to write correctly and to communicate clearly, students’ writing will not improve.

 

I am so glad you included Hirsch’s and Cunningham’s argument that “it takes knowledge to gain knowledge…those with a rich base of factual knowledge find it easier to learn more—the rich get richer.”  This, of course, is called the Matthew Principle and is absolutely true in education as well as in so many other areas of life.  Knowledge first…inquiry-based learning way down the line.

 

To make your point, you then went ahead and illustrated the importance of having good science standards and acclaimed those in South Carolina which contain not only a clearly worded academic content standard but also the accompanying indicators that specify what the student is supposed to be able to do with the content to prove that he has learned it.  I really like this because it is something that will help teachers “to get their arms around the standard.” It is such a shame that the NGSS has not adopted this same organizational format.

 

I do take issue with the following paragraph, however:

“We at Fordham have long favored high-quality multi-state, even ‘national’ academic standards, so long as they originate with, and are voluntary for, states. We’re bullish, for example, about the Common Core ELA and math standards because they are substantively strong and truly state-owned.”

 

Nothing about the Common Core Standards Initiative has been “voluntary” but has been manipulated and coerced by the U. S. Dept. of Education under Sect. of Ed. Arne Duncan with the “carrot and stick” of federal dollars and the bullying of states through the threat of the loss of those federal dollars.

How could the CCS/ELA and Math standards have been “state-owned” when states were pressured into committing to the standards BEFORE they were even completed?  Our own former-Texas Education Commissioner Robert Scott has testified that Texas was pressured to adopt the CCS before the final version was completed.  In other words, most of those 46 states that adopted the CCS did so “sight unseen.”

 

 

 

Donna Garner

Wgarner1@hot.rr.com

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