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From the above discussion alone, it might seem to teachers that achieving all of the physics-related high school standards during one

or two physics courses might be impossible. However, it is important to keep in mind that all of the standards are embedded within a

K-12 framework that anticipates that students will progress toward these ideas from their earliest years in school.

Although each of the grade-level standards merit reading individually, Table 4 below gives a very brief overview of the concepts

Grade Band









Forces (pushes/pulls), collisions, gravity

Sound, EM spectrum, light, color, reflection, refraction, lenses

Physical properties

Balanced/unbalanced forces, inertia, momentum, harmonic motion, E&M forces

Forms of energy (kinetic/motion, sound, light, heat, electric), conservation of


Geometric optics

Nuclear, chemical, and physical properties

Atomic and molecular models, heat

Newton’s Laws, E&M fields and forces, universal gravitation

Kinetic and potential energy (inc. proportionalities/equations), conservation of


Wave speed (inc. proportionalities/ equations), reflection, absorption, transmission

Atomic particles, fission/fusion

Newton’s Laws, force diagrams, impulse and momentum, conservation of energy,

Law of Gravitation, Coulomb’s Law, induction, EM interactions

Forms of energy, conservation of energy, Laws of Thermodynamics

Wave propagation (sound, light), wave-particle duality, absorption,


Table 4: Physics-related standards across the grade bands

addressed in each grade band to lead up to

high school physics.

What Physics is not in the NGSS?

Because the standards are highly

interconnected and emphasize SEPs and

CCs just as much as DCIs, it is possible to

teach nearly any physics concept in such a

way that it helps to address the goals of the

NGSS. Although no content is explicitly

excluded, certain physics concepts

are explicitly included. The language,

vocabulary, and structure of the NGSS

will certainly affect those who are charged

with evaluation the NGSS teaching

practices of a teacher. When appropriate,

physics teachers should be prepared to

explain how the content and skills that

they teach relate to the NGSS.

Table 5, below, identifies topics that are

typically included in an introductory

high school physics course. The columns

demonstrate what language is explicitly

included and what is omitted from

the NGSS. Language included in the

performance expectations is listed in

bold. Language included in the associated

DCIs, clarifying statements, or assessment

boundaries is shown in plain font. The

last column in the table shows language

that is omitted from any elements of the

NGSS. Although a physics teacher might

understand that a lesson on Hooke’s Law

is important and worthwhile (but not

explicitly mentioned in the NGSS), it is

important for the teacher to recognize

and communicate to evaluators that it has

strong connections to topics explicitly

listed in the NGSS, such as energy

transformations, conservation of energy,

and a variety of SEPs and CCs.