Date:  April 10, 2013




National Research Council Framework Leads to Development of Next Generation Science Standards


WASHINGTON -- Marking the culmination of a three-year, multiphase process, a 26-state consortium has released the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), a detailed description of the key scientific ideas and practices that all students should learn by the time they graduate from high school.  The standards are based largely on the 2011 National Research Council report A Framework for K-12 Science Education: Practices, Crosscutting Concepts, and Core Ideas. Printed versions of the NGSS will be published by the National Academies Press.


Shepherded by the nonprofit educational organization Achieve Inc., the 26 lead states and a team of 40 writers used the framework as a foundation to develop internationally benchmarked science education standards.  Two public drafts in 2012 and 2013 drew input from stakeholders in science, science education, higher education, business, and industry.  With the final release, all states can now discuss whether to voluntarily adopt the standards in their public schools.


"We applaud the completion of the standards," said Helen Quinn, chair of the Research Council committee that produced the framework report and professor emerita of physics at SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory in Stanford, Calif.  "They represent a key step in bringing the science education vision put forward by our framework closer to realization in classrooms across the country."


The framework is designed to help students gradually deepen their knowledge of core scientific ideas throughout their education rather than acquire shallow knowledge of many topics.  It specifies core ideas in four disciplinary areas -- life sciences; physical sciences; earth and space sciences; and engineering, technology, and the applications of science -- and identifies seven crosscutting concepts that are relevant across multiple scientific disciplines, for example, "cause and effect" and "stability and change."  It also includes eight key scientific and engineering practices, such as asking questions and defining problems, analyzing and interpreting data, and constructing explanations and designing solutions.


The NGSS reflect the framework by focusing on a small set of core ideas, emphasizing deep understanding and application of content, and building a coherent progression of concepts over the course of a student's K-12 science education.


In addition to serving as the foundation for the new standards, the Research Council's framework can also be used as a guide for those developing curriculum and performance assessments, those who train teachers and create professional development materials, and state and district science supervisors. 


"Teachers will need support, time, and aligned materials to incorporate these new expectations into their practice," said Quinn.  "This will not happen overnight, but with patience and persistence, the standards have the potential to guide science teaching in ways that better prepare all of our children for citizenship and future careers."


A forthcoming National Research Council report will provide recommendations for developing assessments that measure student proficiency in science as laid out in the 2011 standards framework.


The National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, Institute of Medicine, and National Research Council make up the National Academies.  They are private, independent nonprofit institutions that provide science, technology, and health policy advice under a congressional charter granted to NAS in 1863.  The Research Council is the principal operating agency of the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering.  For more information, visit



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Print versions of Next Generation Science Standards will be published by the National Academies Press and are available for pre-order on the Internet at or by calling tel. 202-334-3313 or 1-800-624-6242.