How does the NGSS help students make students think and apply their learning?Think Students

Thinking requires students to do more than memorize facts and repeating them back to a teacher. Students should to be able to demonstrate their knowledge by engaging in cognitive processes such as asking good questions, applying knowledge, problem solving, constructing arguments and conducting investigations. This is one way the NGSS are different from previous standards. They are written as performance expectations (figure 1) not knowledge statements.

Figure 1: One Middle School Physical Science Standard with the Performance Expectations. Figure 1: One Middle School Physical Science Standard with the Performance Expectations.

An example of this performance orientation for students is demonstrated in this video of a high school science class on biofuels. The  performance expectations in the NGSS are designed to be clear about the standard for educators and curriculum developers by being specific about what the standards really mean for students.

What are the statements in red in figure 1? For many of the performance expectations there is additional text in red. This is a clarification statement that provides specific examples or further definition about what the performance expectation really means. Then sometimes there is an assessment boundary statements following the clarification one. They clarify the limits for assessment of the performance expectation.

What doe MS-PS2-1 mean? These codes are labels for the performance expectations. The “MS” means middle school, “PS” means Physical Science, “2” means second core idea, and the “1” means the first performance indicator. Each performance indicator is coded in a similar manner.

The performance expectations in Next Generation Science Standards also support Diverse Learners and their needs by having students doing science and using a variety of learning strategies. A more detailed explanation can be found at the NGSS web site for how the NGSS supports diverse learners.

A more complete description of the Performance Expectations can be found on page 2 in a document at the NGSS web site.

To see the performance expectations combined with the other three dimensions of a NGSS standard click here.

What does a complete NGSS standard look like? Every NGSS standards is made up of seven boxes with information related to that standard.

What other communication resources could be available for my state? There are several initiatives designed to support teachers with the implementation of the NGSS.

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