Fall conferences are in full swing for educators, and Measured Progress recently attended two regional science conferences: the California Science Education Conference (CSTA) in Palm Springs, and the first regional NSTA conference of 2016 in Minneapolis. It was incredibly energizing to meet so many science educators, and we came away from both conferences very impressed by the dedication of K–12 educators in the science community. Attendees described their shared mission to educate today’s students to know, think, and act like scientists and engineers, in line with Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS)*, and they offered numerous ideas about how to best fulfill that mission.
Having to select new curriculum and find appropriate NGSS-aligned assessment tools to support your transition to the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS*) can be a challenge. According to a recent article in Education Dive, the hurdle is even higher: “Teachers should be assessing whether students get the core ideas, but they also need to know whether students understand the larger framework and the ways scientists and engineers approach questions about the world.” In other words, K-12 science education today has to go beyond confirming content knowledge, to helping students make connections across science disciplines. At the same time, students are tasked to figure out how to understand natural phenomenon and create solutions to design problems. That’s a tall order, for sure.
The Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS*) demand a shift in how educators approach science education. This shift includes an emphasis on the integration of three dimensions: to incorporate an understanding of how scientists and engineers think and act with the learning progression of science content. Students need opportunities to engage in learning that blend all three dimensions of the standards:
Measured Progress is really excited about our new partnership with Activate Learning, the publisher of IQWST (Investigating & Questioning our World through Science & Technology). Activate Learning is one of the leading middle school science curricula providers in the US. Their inquiry-based approach engages students in doing science. The partnership was announced on March 31, 2016 at the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) conference in Nashville. Since then, we’ve been working side-by-side on a correlation document to show how our two products, IQWST and STEM Gauge®, come together in the classroom to provide a complete solution for full NGSS* alignment.
Research spanning the last three decades has repeatedly shown that the nature of high stakes accountability testing impacts instruction. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, we learned that efficient (predominantly selected-response) external tests served as models for local testing and led to a narrowing of curriculum and instruction—an emphasis on a few school subjects and on low-level knowledge and skills. The authentic assessment era of the ’90s taught us a lot about the dos and don’ts of the less efficient performance assessments. Unfortunately, that era was short-lived as efficiency again became a priority because of the volume of testing and reporting requirements associated with NCLB. Many states significantly reduced or dropped their non-multiple-choice assessment components.