Common Themes, Individual Approaches: Six States’ Experiences with New Science Standards
Developing science standards can be a long and complex process, but many states have recognized theirs are due for a change. Since 2013, 13 states and the District of Columbia have adopted the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), a set of common science standards developed with input from 26 states. In 2014, NASBE awarded stipends to state boards of education in Arkansas, Delaware, District of Columbia, Kentucky, New Jersey, and West Virginia to support NGSS implementation. Francis Eberle profiles the work of these six boards and identifies key steps toward successful implementation:
- Communication Strategy. State boards recognized the need to raise awareness of new standards and explain why old standards were being changed. Arkansas, Delaware, Kentucky, and New Jersey emphasized reaching a wide variety of stakeholders. Delaware’s outreach included policy leaders and focused on informing them of the standards’ impact on other state education initiatives.
- Community Involvement. Arkansas, Delaware, and the District of Columbia made certain that local stakeholders were not just aware of new standards but were involved in their review or implementation. Delaware hosted workshops with local school board members, union and community leaders, policymakers, and parents. DC sponsored community meetings, and Arkansas arranged a public address at a state university.
- Policy Advancement and Alignment. West Virginia used stipend funds to align existing policy to NGSS before deploying them. After comparing NGSS to existing standards, the board shared a plan for implementation with local school boards and kept the state government informed.
- Professional Development and Capacity Building. To complement its communications efforts, Kentucky provided professional development for state education leaders, and the District of Columbia emphasized capacity building to better monitor and report on NGSS implementation and assessments.