New Jersey Adopts the Next Generation Science Standards
On October 24, 2016 Ms. Holly Falcone, Supervisor of Science and Technology Education for the Ramsey School District, presented an overview of the Next Generation Science Standards to the Board of Education Curriculum Committee. New Jersey adopted the new standards, called the New Jersey Student Learning Standards in Science, with implementation beginning this school year for grades 6-12. The new science standards reflect the most current research on science education outlined in the Framework for K-12 Science Education, a National Research Council publication. The new standards emphasize students using science and engineering practices and core scientific ideas to make sense of and explain phenomenon.
Each K-12 standard is an assessment target comprised of three dimensions: a “practice” through which scientists and engineers do their work, a key “crosscutting concept” that links the science disciplines, and a “core idea” of the discipline of life science, physical science, or earth and space science. To meet these targets classroom instruction will involve deeper learning of science concepts by students using the science and engineering practices routinely and with more sophistication throughout their K-12 science career. Students will be challenged with “figuring it out” rather than passively learning about a topic. Real world science and engineering is a collaborative endeavor. To mirror this, students will interact with each other as they conduct investigations; represent data; interpret evidence; gather additional information; and develop explanations, models, and arguments.
The shift in science curriculum, instruction, and assessment as outlined in the Next Generation Science Standards is consistent with Ramsey’s 21st Century Initiative, which emphasizes flexible, innovative, creative, and critical thinkers who can persist in solving problems. Implementation of the new science standards (NJSLS-S) began statewide in grades 6-12 with the 2016-2017 school year and K-5 implementation is scheduled for September 2017. The Ramsey School District began preparations for the new vision for science education in 2013 by providing professional development from Stevens Institute of Technology and integrating engineering across the elementary grades. Additional professional development has taken place for instructors in grades 6-12 and includes the exploration of new instructional materials and the redesign of curriculum units.