State releases new standards for science

By LISA CAPOBIANCO
STAFF WRITER
More “doing” in the classroom is something that will result from the newly released Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS).
Early last month, the Connecticut State Board of Education unanimously voted to adopt the standards. During a Board of Education meeting held earlier this month, Dr. Richard Gagliardi, supervisor of science, technology and engineering for Bristol Public Schools, explained how the standards will affect student learning in the classroom. The current state standards for science are now 11 years old.
In his presentation to the board, Gagliardi defined the new standards are “a set of learner outcomes designed to engage all students and faculty in science” in grades K-12.
One of the big shifts for science teachers is “more doing” and more “hands-on,” said Gagliardi.
“It’s an exciting time for science teachers,” said Gagliardi. “Students are going to be doing more science.”
The state has a five-year implementation timeline for NGSS, envisioning a three-year rollout. While next year will focus on professional development, said Gagliardi, the new state assessment is expected to begin in 2019-2020. Currently, the state has released a 15-module course online for teachers.
“We have a lot of work ahead of us, and our science teachers are going to be busy learning new methods of teaching science,” Gagliardi. “We may see significant curriculum shifts.”
The work around the NGSS stem from research about how students better learn science, which was factored into the development of the standards, said Gagliardi, adding how NGSS is consistent with the Connecticut Core Standards.
Developed by the National Research Council, the National Science Teachers Association, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and Achieve, NGSS has a three-dimension vision of what it means to be proficient in science: practices, crosscutting concepts and disciplinary core ideas.
Gagliardi said the disciplinary core ideas are the life sciences, earth and space sciences. According to the NGSS website, disciplinary core ideas have the power to “focus K-12 science curriculum, instruction and assessments on the most important aspects of science.”
“What we’ve see in these standards are a little bit more emphasis on earth and space science than the previous standards have actually included,” said Gagliardi.
A new addition of NGSS includes an introduction of engineering practices.
“What we want students to see is the relationship between science and engineering,” said Gagliardi. “There are clear relationships there, and I think this will go a long way in helping our students in the United States become better performers in this area.”
Under NGSS, crosscutting themes stretch through the disciplinary core ideas, said Gagliardi. These concepts apply to all domains of science, and are a way of linking different domains of science. They include patterns, similarity and diversity; cause and effect; scale, proportion and quantity; energy and matter, structure and function; systems and system models; and stability and change.
Students will visit these seven themes on a regular basis no matter which science content area they are studying, said Gagliardi.
Under NGSS, practices will serve as the methodology by which students will learn science and engage in science learning, said Gagliardi. Under NGSS, there are eight practices, such as asking questions and defining problems, analyzing an interpreting data, developing explanations, and using math and computational thinking. The NGSS website states that practices “describe behaviors that scientists engage in as they investigate and build models and theories about the natural world” and are the key set of practices that engineers use to design or build models and systems.
“As students study different components of science, they will do that through…at least one of those practices,” said Gagliardi.
To learn more about NGSS, visit www.nextgenscience.org.  content, which consists of several different sciences, including political sciences, life sciences, earth and space sciences. According to the NGSS website, disciplinary core ideas have the power to “focus K-12 science curriculum, instruction and assessments on the most important aspects of science.”
“What we’ve see in these standards are a little bit more emphasis on earth and space science than the previous standards have actually included,” said Gagliardi.
A new addition of NGSS includes an introduction of engineering practices.
“What we want students to see is the relationship between science and engineering,” said Gagliardi. “There are clear relationships there, and I think this will go a long way in helping our students in the United States become better performers in this area.”
Under NGSS, crosscutting themes stretch through the disciplinary core ideas, said Gagliardi. These concepts apply to all domains of science, and are a way of linking different domains of science. They include patterns, similarity and diversity; cause and effect; scale, proportion and quantity; energy and matter, structure and function; systems and system models; and stability and change.
Students will visit these seven themes on a regular basis no matter which science content area they are studying, said Gagliardi.
Under NGSS, practices will serve as the methodology by which students will learn science and engage in science learning, said Gagliardi. Under NGSS, there are eight practices, such as asking questions and defining problems, analyzing an interpreting data, developing explanations, and using math and computational thinking. The NGSS website states that practices “describe behaviors that scientists engage in as they investigate and build models and theories about the natural world” and are the key set of practices that engineers use to design or build models and systems.
“As students study different components of science, they will do that through…at least one of those practices,” said Gagliardi.
To learn more about NGSS, visit http://www.nextgenscience.org/.