July 25, 2011  

Carnegie Corporation Applauds NRC on Framework for K-12 Science Education

Vartan Gregorian, President of Carnegie Corporation of New York, offered his support for the National Research Council’s Framework for K-12 Science Education: Practices, Crosscutting Concepts, and Core Ideas and called for it to be placed atop the nation’s agenda. The report presents a new framework for K-12 science education, identifying the key concepts and practices that all students should learn. The National Research Council’s (NRC) report offers a vision for K-12 education in science and engineering and embodies a significant shift in how these subjects are viewed and taught. Download the free report from National Academies Press. 

The Framework for K-12 Science Education is designed to be the basis for the next generation of science standards. Using the practices, crosscutting concepts, and core ideas that the framework lays out, a group of states, coordinated by Achieve, Inc. (an independent, bipartisan, nonprofit education reform organization), will develop standards for what students should know and be able to do at grades 2, 5, 8, and 12.  It will also inform the work of curriculum and assessment developers, researchers, teacher educators, and others.  

“Access to learning and knowledge are fundamental to the strength of American democracy. Hence, the NRC’s Framework is an important contribution to advancing the progress of our nation,” said Vartan Gregorian. “Over the past several decades, a tremendous amount of new knowledge—and indeed entirely new fields of study—have been generated in the sciences.  The time is right for a new framework to bring coherence to the teaching of the expanded knowledge base in the sciences.  And, there is a real need for students to engage in the actual practices of science and engineering, which is a basic part of understanding science.” 

Gregorian noted that the Framework will allow educators to harness new and existing knowledge so that all students, not just a select few, or those fortunate enough to attend certain schools, are provided the opportunity to achieve much higher levels of science learning. The competencies presented in the Framework are what all Americans must have if they are to make informed everyday decisions, contribute to and gain from the country’s future productivity, understand some of today’s most important policy choices, and fully participate in building a sustainable future.

This process differs from previous standards efforts in that science education must first undergo a framework-setting process that defines the actual science, based on evidence and research by the science and education communities, that represents the core of what students need to learn by the end of high school.  From there, a separate but complementary process, funded in part by Carnegie Corporation, will use the NRC Framework to outline next-generation science standards based on the architecture of the Framework.

Because of the NRC’s long history of providing independent scientific guidance to the nation, Carnegie Corporation of New York asked the nonpartisan, nongovernmental organization to appoint and convene an independent committee of experts to describe, in broad terms, the core ideas in science and engineering that all students should understand and be able to apply, and the progression of ideas students need to experience in order to comprehend them. The committee is chaired by Helen Quinn, a prominent physicist at SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory.  Originally a particle physics research center, the Menlo Park, CA-based SLAC is now a multipurpose laboratory for astrophysics, photon science, accelerator and particle physics research.

The framework has been made available for immediate, voluntary use by states, curriculum and assessment developers, and leaders of professional development for teachers.  

Carnegie Corporation of New York has partnered with groups including Achieve, the National Science Teachers Association, the American Association for the Advancement of Science and others to engage states and other key stakeholders in the development and review of the next generation of science standards.  For example, a grant to Achieve will allow the organization to work with state policy and higher education leaders, K-12 educators, the science and business community and others experts to write standards based on NRC's framework.

About Carnegie Corporation of New York

Carnegie Corporation of New York is a philanthropic foundation created by Andrew Carnegie in 1911 to do "real and permanent good in this world." In education, the Corporation works to create pathways to opportunity for many more students by promoting systemic change and innovation in secondary and higher education.

About the National Research Council

The National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, Institute of Medicine, and National Research Council make up the National Academies. They are private, nonprofit institutions that provide science, technology, and health policy advice under a congressional charter. The National Research Council is the principal operating agency of the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering.