Improving Education Standards

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Science  01 Feb 2013:
Vol. 339, Issue 6119, pp. 489
DOI: 10.1126/science.1235590

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This month, achieve, an organization established by the 50 U.S. state governors to improve academic standards and testing, will begin finalizing its draft document (released in January 2013) of the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS).* This document aims to establish new common standards for science education for students aged 5 to 18 in the United States, and it explicitly builds on the U.S. National Academies' 2011 Framework for K-12 Science Education.† The Framework put forth a vision of science education that is notable for emphasizing student participation in key science and engineering practices, such as asking questions and defining problems; developing and using models; engaging in argument from evidence; and learning cross-cutting concepts such as energy and matter, cause and effect, and structure and function. To allow room for these in the school day, the Framework stressed the importance of minimizing the number of disciplinary core ideas that standards require to be taught. Now that the NGSS document has entered its final revision stage, it is important to ask how well these standards match the powerful vision for them that was laid down by the Framework.