Publisher Update on Next Generation Science Standards

During a March 1 webinar hosted by AAP School Division and AEP, Stephen Pruitt, VP of Content, Research, and Development for Achieve, gave publishers and content developers an update on the Next Generation Science Standards. The goal of the standards is to create a science curriculum rich in content and practice, internationally benchmarked, that provides students with the structure and goals they need to become science literate in the modern era. While the standards are not yet available for public viewing, Pruitt reiterated the desire of Achieve, the National Research Council (NRC), and everyone involved in creating the standards to ensure that publishers and content developers are partners in the process, fostering the creation of appropriate and high quality resources to support the new standards.

Development Process

The Next Generation Science Standards Framework was developed by the NRC with input from scientists, educators, and policy experts. Achieve is managing Phase II, the standards writing process, which they hope to complete by the end of 2012. In order to ensure fidelity with the Framework, the NRC is continually reviewing the standards.

State Buy-in

Even though the NRC and Achieve have overseen the development of the Framework and the actual standards, this is a state-led process. There is a group of 26 lead partner states that are providing assistance with every aspect of the standards, from writing and reviewing to drafting implementation plans. The lead partner states represent 58% of the nation’s schools, a bipartisan cross-section of governors, and a wide geographic population.

Timeframe

Currently, a public comment period is planned for April 2012. Earlier than that, only key stakeholders may review and critique the drafts. Publishers can have a qualified employee apply to be a stakeholder, but only that individual may review and comment on the standards—and must sign a confidentiality agreement stating they will not share the drafts with anyone else.

State Adoption

In addition groups focused on writing the new standards, there is a committee looking at adoption and implementation. However, while Race to the Top and other U.S. Department of Education provided impetus for more concrete timelines for Common Core adoption, there is no such factor yet for the science standards. Pruitt says he has no information on what states may do with pending science adoptions or on timelines for final implementation. He does believe, though, that states will look for publishers that know about the impending changes that can help them with the transition.

Assessment

The two assessments being developed for Common Core (PARCC and SMARTER Balanced) are funded by U.S. Department of Education grants. Currently, there is no grant for science assessment, but Pruitt does envision that states will want to develop a common assessment for gauging student progress.

Barriers

States must either adopt all of the standards or none of them. Pruitt says that some of the content may be a barrier in certain states. And, as previously noted, assessments will need to be redone. Finally, the standards are a dramatic change from existing ones, so there will be a great need for course restructuring and teacher professional development.

For now, Pruitt said there are two things publishers can do to keep their companies involved in the process.

  1. They can contact Achieve about having someone at their company become a key stakeholder. This will allow that person to provide feedback at several points during the drafting process.
  2. They can attend the April 5 meeting in Washington, DC, where more information will be available, ask questions, and offer insights into how the changes may affect product development.

For more information on the Next Generation Science Standards, go to www.nextgenscience.org/.

View more information on the April 5 meeting.

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