By the fall of 2012, the Next Generation of Science Standards will be available for states to adopt. Part 1 of the process, the Framework for K12 Science Education, was released July 19 by the National Research Council (NRC), an arm of the National Academy of Sciences (NAS). Traditionally, states have developed their own individual standards by extracting components from science benchmarks set forth by organizations such as the American Association for the Advancement of Science. This new process of adopting standards, however, asks states to unite to develop standards that could potentially be adopted nationwide.
The national science standards share similar concepts with the Common Core State Standards for language arts and mathematics, developed by the National Governors Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers.
"The Common Core State Standards are a good example of working with a national document and adopting it," says Brett Moulding, NAS member and director of the Utah Partnership for Effective Science Teaching and Learning. "It's an excellent process that states are following by looking at the idea of adopting national standards."
Following the release of the Framework, the initiative will become a state-led process bringing together educators from K12 and higher education, business leaders, and members of the scientific community to construct the set of standards.
Stephen Pruitt, vice president of content, research and development at Achieve, a nonprofit and nonpartisan education organization that will manage the development of the new science standards, says engineering is one concept that is uniquely highlighted in the new framework."Engineering work is not typically done, but there is a push for it," says Pruitt. "Engineers need scientists. Science needs to understand engineering. These standards need to be more reflective of the 21st century."
According to Pruitt, 20 states applied to be part of the coalition to develop the standards, and those chosen will be announced in early September.
"The state-led nature of this is unique," says Pruitt. "The standards are going to represent a new day of science in the 21st century, and we are going to give every child an opportunity for success."