What are the NGSS?

The Next Generation Science Standards, or NGSS, are a set of K-12 learning standards that many states have adopted. Other states have adopted modified versions of the NGSS. You'll want to check with your state's Department of Education to be sure.

What makes the NGSS different than past standards?

An emphasis on practices

This means that the scientific method is no longer emphasized, since we now know that scientists do not follow one rote "method," but rather a series of practices as they engage in inquiry. These eight practices are:

  1. Asking questions (for science) and defining problems (for engineering)
  2. Developing and using models
  3. Planning and carrying out investigations
  4. Analyzing and interpreting data
  5. Using mathematics and computational thinking
  6. Constructing explanations (for science) and designing solutions (for engineering)
  7. Engaging in argument for evidence
  8. Obtaining, evaluating, and communicating information

Supporting equity

The research basis for the NGSS includes considerations for girls and students from non dominant racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic backgrounds. NGSS makes specific considerations for working with non-dominant students in a section known as Appendix D.

Including engineering

The NGSS include engineering as a systematic practice of problem-solving. Students should be able to define problems, design solutions, optimize their designs, and respond to testing results. They will also need to be able to use failed tests productively.

How were the NGSS developed?

Unlike Common Core, the Next Generation Science Standards originated in a research document generated by a researchers in science and science education. This document was put out for public review, revised based on the responses of teachers and parents, and published in 2012. The Next Generation Science Standards were written in 2013 to meet the goals set forth in the Framework. Finally, states have adopted or revised these standards according to local guidelines.

What do I need to know about NGSS for my afterschool program?

The NGSS makes it clear that youths’ interests and identities matter for their learning. This is not news to afterschool educators; out-of-school learning environments have always worked hard to spark students’ interest and engage their identities. However, afterschool educators can take on leadership roles in helping K-12 educators learn what it means to think about identity development.