Professional Development and NGSS

Hands-on Learning

This collection will help teachers, schools, districts and states to identify professional development resources for the implementation and understanding of the Next Generation Science Standards. Recognizing the demands of professional development at the varying levels of the educational system, the writers of A Framework for K-12 Science Education (NRC, 2012) emphasize the need for alignment of teacher preparation and professional development with the type of instruction required for students to achieve the vision of the Next Generation Science Standards.

The professional development will need to involve “not only the educators at the front lines but also those who make and implement policies- professional development for state-level science supervisors, school boards, district-level-leaders, principals, and curriculum specialists. In that way, all components and players in the science education system can mesh coherently with the framework’s vision for a more inclusive, focused, and authentic science education experience for all students.” (NRC, 2012) Furthermore, because the writing committee of the Framework was not charged to develop new standards or recommendations for professional development, the National Science Education Standards (NRC, 1996) are still recognized for their value to the science education community.

Ultimately, the determining factors in whether students learn science successfully are based on the interactions between teachers and students in individual classrooms. [Thus,] ”it stands to reason that in order to support implementation of the new standards and the curricula designed to achieve them, the initial preparation and professional development of teachers of science will need to change.” (NRC, 2012)

Professional Development by Content

Conceptual Shifts in the NGSS
Coherence, interconnectedness, depth and application of content are among the advances found in the NGSS design and purposes. The alignment with the Common Core State Standards in Mathematics and Language Arts, the integration of science and engineering, and expression of the standards in the form of student performance expectations are all key features of the NGSS design. All these aim to prepare students for college, careers, and citizenship.
Three Dimensions Innovation of NGSS
The Framework’s vision put into practice is found in the NGSS performance expectations. These are what students must know and be able to do in order to show proficiency in science. Traditionally, we had content and investigative practices. In the NGSS, the performance expectations (PEs) are intrinsically designed to incorporate three dimensions: Science and Engineering Practices (SEPs), Disciplinary Core Ideas (DCI), and Crosscutting Concepts (CCs). The performance expectations are standards, not curriculum or assessments. They express the concepts and skills to be performed, informing teaching through the integrated nature and interconnectedness of the SEPs, DCI and CCs.
Engineering Dimension Innovation
By rising engineering design to the same level as scientific inquiry in classroom instruction at al levels, and by integrating core ideas of engineering and technology in other major science disciplines, the Framework signals the need to address our modern day global environmental and social challenges. By providing opportunities to learn in these fields, students learn how to apply a deeper understanding of science through technological and engineering practical solutions.

Professional Development By Design

The NGSS do not include standards of professional development as the NSES did; nonetheless, the Framework articulates the necessary coherence and need across all levels of the educational system to ensure teacher preparation and professional development is carried out along the continuum of teacher learning. The Framework defines ‘system’ as “the institutions and mechanisms that shape and support science teaching and learning in the classroom” (NRC, p.241).

For the proper implementation of the NGSS to take place, “preservice teachers will need experiences that help them understand how students think, what they are capable of doing, and what they might reasonably be expected to do under supportive instructional conditions.” [Furthermore], preservice preparation along cannot fully prepare science teachers to implement the three dimensions of the framework as an integrated and effective whole. Inservice professional development will also be necessary to support teachers in classrooms teaching science curricula based on the framework” (NRC, 2012, p.258).

Professional Development By Context

Science education systems have multiple operational and decision-making levels: classroom, school, school district, state and national. Nonetheless, the ultimate significant impact by decisions distributed across these levels, channels of communication and resource-allocation is the classroom.

The degree of commitment to equity, how scheduling takes place, and the implementation of policies are all areas that affect how NGSS professional development needs are met.

The Framework advocates for vertical and horizontal coherence, as key for the successful implementation of standards- based science and engineering education at all levels.

Consequently, from the preservice teacher preparation context, to the professional development and capacity building contexts, the vision of the Framework recommends alternative models of professional development and ongoing support for the effective implementation of the NGSS.

Professional Development by Approach

Incorporating the full range of scientific and engineering practices in science teaching will require offering support and opportunities for preservice and inservice teachers to experience and develop explicit ways to bring the Performance Expectations, Disciplinary Core Ideas, Scientific and Engineering Practices and Crosscutting Concepts into focus as they teach.

Engaging learning communities to teach science education curricula based on the Framework’s vision, involves not only specific induction and mentoring, but also ongoing professional development for all stages of the teaching continuum, and using various mediums and approaches.

“Because elementary teachers teach several subjects, it will be especially important to consider how best to meet their needs...[also] alternative models of teacher assignment, particularly at upper elementary and middle school grades, ma be needed. Even for secondary science teachers, facility with conceptual understanding of the framework and with the practices described [in it] will require continuing professional development” (NRC, 2012; p. 260).