A Framework for K-12 Science Education: Practices, Crosscutting Concepts, and Core Ideas

In A Framework for K-12 Science Education: Practices, Crosscutting Concepts, and Core Ideas, the National Research Council articulates a new approach to K-12 science education and outlines a broad set of rigorous expectations intended to support all students in achieving scientific literacy. It provides guidelines on how to become better prepared to pursue STEM careers. The Framework organizes science learning around three dimensions: science and engineering practices, crosscutting concepts, and disciplinary core ideas. Authors of the Framework emphasize that these three dimensions should be interwoven in every aspect of science education—curriculum, instruction, and assessment. The Framework was subsequently used as the foundation for the development of the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS).

Content Comments 

This seminal document was developed by a committee of nationally and internationally known experts in the fields of science and science education, and establishes a solid, evidence-based foundation on which the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) were formed. The document is organized in three parts, providing insight into the vision of K-12 science education, the integration of the three dimensions, and key factors to realize this vision (e.g. teacher professional development and equity and diversity in science and engineering). In concert with the NGSS, the Framework presents a significantly altered approach to science education by maintaining that students must “engage in scientific and engineering practices in the context of disciplinary core ideas, and make connections across topics through the crosscutting ideas.” This multidimensional approach to science education is a main tenet of the Framework and the NGSS, and presents both opportunities and challenges for states as they begin to implement the new standards.