Paper No. 10-1
Presentation Time: 8:15 AM
NGSS: THE 2016 ELECTION HAS GONE STATE BY STATE, AND THE WINNER IS…
The Next Generation Science Standards represent the most significant shift in U.S. K-12 science education this generation has seen, but like many other important areas, its adoption or adaptation (or not) is going at its own pace and in its own style in each different state. This creates a unique set of challenges for the geoscience and geoeducation communities in each state, as the related issues for each state are different. In fossil-fuel-concentrated communities, such as Wyoming, Oklahoma, and West Virginia, the strong presence of the topics of climate and climate change in the NGSS have created complications for its adoption, and these complications have been addressed with varying degrees of success. Some states still only require two years of high school science for all students, so the presence of three years of NGSS high school science (particularly the addition of a year of Earth and Space Science) is creating legislative challenges. There is a general lack of trained and accredited high school geoscience teachers in nearly all states (with a few notable exceptions, such as New York), so the preparation and training of high school geoscience teachers is a significant nationwide concern. This problem extends to all grades and all sciences, because though most of the new life and physical science content is roughly similar to what has been taught before, the pedagogic shifts are enormous across all of the NGSS. Some states, such as Washington, are moving toward a coordinated statewide teacher training and certification program that is fully aligned with the NGSS, but some states have made little progress. Some states have moved ahead with the development of assessment materials, such as Illinois and Washington, D.C., but other states have yet to begin. And some states have unique challenges, such as California’s frustrating failure to have its state universities recognize high school geology classes as legitimate lab-based science courses. The geoscience community needs to be willing to help in a variety of ways in the implementation of the new NGSS-aligned geoscience adoptions, but the nature of this help will vary state-by-state depending upon the unique circumstances in each state: one size will not fit all. But these changes are in the process of happening, and the winner clearly will be America’s students.