Through a collaborative, state-led process managed by Achieve, new K–12 science education standards have been developed that are rich in content and practice and arranged in a coherent manner across disciplines and grades to provide all students an internationally benchmarked science education. The Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) are based on the Framework for K–12 Science Education developed by the National Research Council.
Capstone’s NGSS packages provide texts to support a science instruction and curriculum that helps students grow to proficiency in science classrooms specific to grade level. Titles, instructional materials, and science assessments chosen for these packages present and support Disciplinary Core Ideas (DCI) that are grouped in four domains: the physical sciences; the life sciences; the earth and space sciences; and engineering, technology, and applications of science.
Three Dimensions of the Science Education Standards
Dimension 1: Practices
The framework for K-12 practices describe behaviors that scientists engage in as they investigate and build models and theories about the natural world and the key set of engineering practices that engineers use as they design and build models and systems. The NRC uses the term “practices” instead of a term like “skills” to emphasize that engaging in scientific investigation requires not only skill but also knowledge that is specific to each practice. Part of the NRC’s intent is to better explain and extend what is meant by “inquiry” in science and the range of cognitive, social, and physical practices that it requires.
Although engineering design is similar to scientific inquiry, there are significant differences. For example, scientific inquiry involves the formulation of a question that can be answered through investigation, while engineering design involves the formulation of a problem that can be solved through design. Strengthening the engineering science concepts and aspects of the Next Generation Science Standards will clarify for students the relevance of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (the four STEM fields) to everyday life in the real-world.
Dimension 2: Crosscutting Concepts
Crosscutting concepts have application across all domains of science learning. As such, they are a way of linking the different domains of science. They include: Patterns, similarity, and diversity; Cause and effect; Scale, proportion and quantity; Systems and system models; Energy and matter; Structure and function; Stability and change. The NGSS Framework emphasizes that these concepts need to be made explicit for students by science teachers because they provide an organizational schema for interrelating knowledge from various science fields into a coherent and scientifically based view of the real-world.
Dimension 3: Disciplinary Core Ideas
Disciplinary core ideas have the power to focus K–12 science instruction, curriculum, performance expectations, and assessments on the most important aspects of science. To be considered core, the ideas should meet at least two of the following criteria and ideally all four:
- Have broad importance across multiple science and engineering practices or be a key organizing concept of a single discipline;
- Provide a key tool for understanding or investigating more complex ideas and solving problems;
- Relate to the interests and life experiences of students or be connected to societal or personal concerns that require scientific or technological knowledge;
- Are teachable and learnable over multiple grades at increasing levels of depth and sophistication.
Disciplinary core ideas are grouped in four domains: the physical sciences; the life sciences; the earth and space sciences; and engineering practices, technology and applications of science.
Learn more about the three dimensions in the NRC Framework.