Paper No. 12
Presentation Time: 11:05 AM


WYSESSION, Michael, Earth and Planetary Sciences, Washington University, Campus Box 1169, 1 Brookings Dr, St. Louis, MO 63130, COLSON, Mary, Moorhead Public Schools, Moorhead, MN 56560, DUSCHL, Richard Alan, Penn State, University Park, PA 16802, MESSINA, Paula, San Jose State University, San Jose, CA 95112, LOPEZ, Ramon, University of Texas at Arlington, Arlington, TX 76019 and SPERANZA, Paul, Bellmore, NY 11710,

This year marked the final public release of the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), which spell out a set of K-12 performance expectations for life science, physical science, and Earth and space science (ESS). These standards call for a number of major changes in science education. Among these changes are that ESS is presented on an equal footing with both life science and physical sciences, and that scientific practices, crosscutting concepts, and disciplinary core ideas are to be integrated throughout.

The NGSS provide a smaller number of performance expectations than most other K-12 standards, motivating a curriculum that is “narrower and deeper.” The NGSS integrate engineering and technology seamlessly into the associated scientific concepts. The NGSS do not assess what children need to “know” but rather what children need to be able to “do,” through an increased emphasis on the practices of science. The NGSS emphasize integration of scientific themes across all areas, as well as integration with Common Core concepts of math and English. The NGSS incorporate a greater emphasis on Earth Systems Science and present a greater emphasis on aspects of science that relate directly to humans and human societies.

In this context, the NGSS highlight Earth and space science to an unprecedented degree. If the NGSS are implemented in an optimal manner, a year of ESS will be taught in both middle and high school. In addition, because of the complexity and interconnectedness of the ESS content (with material such as climate change and human sustainability), it would optimally be taught following physics, chemistry, and biology. The NGSS are a step in that direction. However, there are considerable challenges to a full adoption of the NGSS, including the acceptance of high school geoscience in college entrance requirements and training and professional development for high school geoscience teachers.

  • Wysession_GSA2013_GeoEd.pdf (19.7 MB)