Achieve, Inc., and published by the National Academies Press.
As of early 2016, nearly a third of U.S. states and the District of Columbia have adopted
the NGSS. Many states already had their own standards in advance of the development
of the NGSS, and did not opt to adopt the new standards. Some states feel that the NGSS
are insufficient to provide curricular or instructional guidance to teachers, and that their
standards are superior to the NGSS. However, many school districts are adopting the
standards in advance of their states – in some cases, with the NGSS being adopted in
tandem with different state standards.
Adoption of the standards is slow, but progressing. There are a number of speculations
about the factors that have influenced the slow adoption of the NGSS in comparison to
the relatively quick adoption of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS). Because the
CCSS were used by many states as “college and career-ready” standards to comply with
incentives for the Race to the Top program, it is possible that many states are waiting
before adopting yet another set of new standards. Additionally, states have put significant
efforts into improving student achievement in mathematics and English/language arts (the
content associated with the CCSS) through the development of assessments following the
implementation of No Child Left Behind. No nationwide assessment has yet be developed
for science education aligned with the NGSS, and the results of student achievement in
science have significantly less political clout than mathematics of English/language arts. In
some cases, states have opposed any national standards.
Even so, teachers who work in districts or states where the NGSS have not been adopted
should still be aware of the standards both because many professional organizations
have endorsed them and so that they can effectively engage in national discussions aboutscience education.
Overview and History of the NGSS
The Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) were written as a response to the
growing need for a STEM-ready U.S. workforce with critical thinking and inquiry-
based problem solving skills. The NGSS addresses science understanding and
skills at the K-12 level and includes performance expectations for students to have
accomplished by the end of Kindergarten, grades 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5, and at the end of
Middle School (MS) and High School (HS).
Many physics teachers across the country have found themselves impacted by statewide,
local, or even personal adoption of the NGSS. As a result, physics teachers might find
that they need to make shifts in the type of content that they teach and the instructional
practices that they use. To fully understand the NGSS, it is important to understand the
origin of the NGSS, as well as the full K-12 spectrum that it spans.
The NGSS were based on A Framework for K-12 Science Education (2012), produced
by the National Research Council. In order to understand the content and organization
of the NGSS, this document is a “must read” for educators.
What sets the NGSS apart from previous standards are the three dimensions of the
Framework that are interwoven into each standard:
Disciplinary Core Ideas
Science and Engineering Practices
In addition to these three dimensions, standards are also connected to:
Understanding the Scientific Enterprise: The Nature of Science
Science, Technology, Society, and the Environment
Common Core State Standards for Mathematics
Common Core State Standards for Literacy in Science and Technical Subjects
The NGSS were released for adoption by states in April 2013. Reviewing the nationwide
progression of the NGSS can be very helpful to comprehending the fairly complex
nature of the document. Refer to
Resources for Implementing the NGSS
near the back
of this pamphlet for more information. All of the listed documents are available for
free download and serve as an introduction to the evolution of STEM education in the
United States over the past 20 years.
Using the Framework and its three dimensions (Disciplinary Core Ideas, Science and
Engineering Practices, and Crosscutting Concepts), the Next Generation Science
Standards were developed by a coalition of 26 lead states under the guidance of