New Science Education Framework for a New Generation: Conceptual Framework for New Science Education Standards Committee Pursues Guide for Instructional Improvements

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New York, New York, February 2, 2010 — To lay the groundwork for the development of a framework for a new generation of science standards, an expert committee--including top minds in academia from across the diversity of science fields and education research-- met last week in public session to discuss improving science learning and understanding among U.S. students and the general public.  Chairing the National Research Council's Conceptual Framework for New Science Education Standards Committee is Dr. Helen Quinn, professor of physics at Stanford Linear Accelerator Center, National Accelerator Laboratory.  The National Research Council's rigorous study and review process will develop a science learning framework to reinforce the importance of science education in our increasingly science-dominated society.  

 "Young people today need the knowledge and skills of science more than ever before--not only as prerequisites for jobs and college, but in order to analyze problems, imagine solutions, and bring new ideas into being," said Michele Cahill, Vice President, National Programs and Program Director, Urban Education, Carnegie Corporation of New York, which is funding the science framework effort and a related standards setting process that will follow the National Research Council's work. "Experts in the scientific community can help identify the "big ideas" that all citizens need to know and provide guidance to our schools about how to make those ideas exciting and accessible to all young people."

The National Research Council’s Conceptual Framework for New Science Education Standards Committee

Given the proliferation of knowledge in the sciences, particularly knowledge that blurs the lines between traditional science disciplines (e.g., chemistry or biology), the identification of core ideas has greater importance for organizing curriculum, teaching and learning. The core ideas in science around which the education framework may be developed include physical sciences, life sciences, earth sciences and applied sciences, as well as cross-cutting ideas such as mathematization*, causal reasoning, evaluating and using evidence, argumentation, and model development.  The framework will look at student learning in at least 4th, 8th, and 12th grade. 

 The National Research Council committee will continue its open process with additional opportunities for public comment, including public meetings and web-based feedback mechanisms.   Information about the project, the committee’s first meeting, how to share feedback and the list of committee members can be found on the NRC Web site.

The committee will draw on previous efforts to define science learning, such as the National Research Council’s National Science Education Standards, American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Benchmarks, the 2009 National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP) Framework and the redesign of Advanced Placement (AP) courses by the College Board. 

Next Generation Science Standards

As the National Research Council committee works toward completing a final report, design teams from Achieve, Inc., National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) and American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), will begin the process of developing science standards.  The National Research Council’s framework will be central to this process.

Underpinning this effort is a set of recommendations for fewer, clearer, higher standards drawn from Opportunity Equation: Transforming Mathematics and Science Education for Citizenship and the Global Economy the June 2009 report by the Carnegie Corporation of New York - Institute for Advanced Study Commission on Mathematics and Science Education.

“In concert with the mobilization called for in the Opportunity Equation, and the NRC publication, Taking Science to School, the National Science Foundation (NSF) brought the science, cognitive science, and education communities together soon after the release of these two reports to explore the range of core ideas within K-12 science” said Janice Earle, Cluster Coordinator, NSF.  “We are using this heightened sense of awareness of the importance of science, technology, engineering and mathematics or STEM core ideas as an opportunity to revamp the way we look at standards, and their connection to rigorous and relevant coursework.”

The core ideas conversation continued through two additional meetings in the fall of 2009 convened by Carnegie Corporation of New York and NSF. 

Supporting the Opportunity Equation’s initiative for change, Carnegie Corporation of New York has made a number of grants to groups such as the National Academies, Achieve, Inc. and Council of Chief State School Officers and the Alliance for Excellent Education.

*mathematizing is a technical term that means representing relationships in the natural world using mathematics.

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.

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