Fordham Institute Comments on the first draft of the Next Generation Science Standards

The Thomas B. Fordham Institute provides Commentary & Feedback on Draft I of the Next Generation Science Standards.Ā  The commentary is dated June 25, 2012 and is authored by Paul R. Gross with Lawrence S. Lerner, John Lynch, Martha Schwartz, RichardĀ Schwartz, and W. Stephen Wilson. Ā The forward is written by Chester E. Finn, Jr. and Kathleen Porter-Magee.

The commentary and feedback indicates the drafters have considerable work ahead of them if they are going to produce a set of quality standards.Ā  One more public draft will be produced prior to the final standards being released in 2013.

The review points out the drafters are trying to create fewer standards to reach greater depth.Ā  In doing so, it seems, some prerequisite skills and content are not developed for many of the standards.Ā  The standards also seem to focus on conceptual understanding and process rather than scientific knowledge.

One page 17 of the review, the alignment of the Next Generation Science Standards with the Common Core State Standards for Mathematics (CCSS-M) is addressed.Ā  For many who followed the development of the CCSS-M and have concerns about the emphasis being placed on the Standards for Mathematical Practices, the first problem mentioned may be no surprise:

First, too often the NGSS references not the mathematics content in the CCSS-M, but rather theĀ ā€œmathematical practicesā€ included therein. To be sure, there are important mathematicalĀ problem-solving skills that students need to master. But more important to the study of science isĀ firm mastery of essential math content that provides the foundation for much of their scienceĀ work, and the alignment between the math content and the science standards should be given farĀ greater prominence.

These days the typical emphasis seems to be on process rather than content.Ā  Many are emphasizing the Standards for Mathematical Practices in the CCSS-M rather than the math content.Ā  It seems the science standards are also emphasizing process over content.

Will process skills be developed in the absence of appropriate content?Ā  Will higher order thinking skills be developed in the absence of anything to think about?

I encourage you to read the complete commentary and feedback for yourself.