July 12, 2010  

Mapping Next Generation Science Education. Public Comment Sought on Draft Science Education Framework

New York, NY, July 12, 2010—The National Research Council (NRC) today released a draft science education framework, which is an overarching vision of what it means for K-12 students to be proficient in science.  The draft framework is open for comments from the science community and other key stakeholders.  Drafted by the NRC’s Conceptual Framework for New Science Education Standards Committee (Committee), the framework is an important first step to establishing a body of scientific knowledge, and explaining the interrelationships among core ideas, concepts and practices in science education.  This rigorous framework development process will allow for a fresh look at the largely decade-old recommendations for science education in order to reflect the current body of research, and our increasingly science-dominated society and economy. 

Read the NRC's press release.

The NRC website, www.nationalacademies.org/bose/Standards_Framework_Homepage. html, will house the draft framework and a questionnaire during the public review period, which will end on August 2.  The comments will be organized and used by the Committee as it considers revisions to the framework.

In addition to feedback gathered from the general public through the website, the NRC will work closely with leading science and education organizations, including the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA), American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) and Achieve, to gather feedback from science teachers and educators, the science community at-large, experts in science education and state-level policymakers.  These organizations will also conduct a series of targeted focus groups as means of soliciting more specific feedback.

Science is not part of the Common Core state standards initiative led by the National Governors Association and Council of Chief State School Officers, which recently issued common core standards.  The Common Core currently includes mathematics and English/language arts.

“Over the past several decades, a tremendous amount of new knowledge has been generated in the sciences,” said Michele Cahill, vice president, National Programs, Carnegie Corporation of New York, which is funding the work of the Committee as well as related outreach and feedback efforts, one of several recommendations of the Carnegie-Institute for Advanced Study Opportunity Equation report. “Educators now need a framework to harness this knowledge so that all students can develop the problem solving skills, critical thinking and sense of discovery they will need to contribute to and gain from the country’s future productivity, understand policy choices, and participate in building a sustainable future.”

Cahill said that this 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.  From there, a separate but complementary process will use the framework to outline next generation science standards based on the architecture of the framework.

Because of its long history of providing independent scientific guidance to the nation, the NRC’s Board on Science Education (BOSE), convened this Committee of experts.  Four overarching areas in science, or domains, guide the work of the Committee – physical sciences, life sciences, earth and space sciences, and engineering and technology.  Within these domains, the framework identifies core ideas in science and key practices that will allow for teaching of science in greater depth and will illustrate how students can engage with these ideas over multiple grades.  The presentation of these core ideas will guide future efforts to organize and focus science standards, curriculum, instruction and assessments on the most important aspects of science. 

Once the final framework is released in early 2011, it will be available for immediate, voluntary use by states, curriculum and assessment developers, and leaders of professional development for teachers.  Achieve will lead a process with other key stakeholders to use the framework to construct a set of next generation science education standards. 

The 18 members of the Committee bring a deep and broad knowledge in the sciences, science learning, practice and education policy. Chairing the Committee is Dr. Helen Quinn, professor of physics at Stanford Linear Accelerator Center, National Accelerator Laboratory.

The Committee is working from a variety of existing documents and bodies of knowledge, including:

* AAAS’ Benchmarks for Science Literacy, 1993

* NRC’s National Science Education Standards, 1996

* NRC's How People Learn, 1999

* NRC’s Systems for State Science Assessment, 2005

* NRC’s Taking Science to School, 2007

* NRC’s Learning Science in Informal Environments, 2009

* College Board’s Science Standards for College Success, 2009

* National Assessment of Educational Progress Framework, 2009

* NSTA’s Science Anchors, 2009

The Committee as a whole will meet two more times in 2010.

About the 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.

To view Opportunity Equation, visit www.OpportunityEquation.org. For more information about Carnegie Corporation of New York or the Institute for Advanced Study, visit www.carnegie.org and www.ias.edu.  To follow on Twitter, go to www.twitter.com/OppEquation.