As innovation in technology and science continue to drive our current economy, science standards in education for students have also changed to meet the demands of the growing field of STEM. The Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) was revised 15 years ago to support growing performance expectations and improve End of Course assessments. The focus of the new standards set by the NGSS is to help more students become engaged in science activities and to improve performance rankings.
How do students rank in math and science assessments when compared to other countries?
Students in grades 9-12 complete End of Course assessments in math and science to determine performance and international rankings. For several years, U.S. high school students have fallen short in international science and math scores. The most recent findings by Pew Research in 2015 suggest that U.S. students still do marginally well in these subjects when compared to other countries (38th in math out of 71 countries and 24th in science).
Among younger students, the Nation's report card indicates there has been improvement in science and math in more in recent years. Since 1995, the Trends in International Mathematics and Science study has assessed students from fourth to eighth grade. In 2015, the study found that math and science scores improved among students in the United States.
What do these findings suggest when it comes to NGSS and assessments?
Though international scores for U.S. students have not seen much improvement when compared to other countries, the initiative to include more NGSS-aligned curriculum is starting to show promising results.
Preliminary findings from a study conducted by SRI have indicated that 3,000 middle school students improved their performance in science when they used NGSS-aligned curriculum. The test scores in this study found that the results were not based on gender or ethnicity, as there was no difference in learning performance.
Performance goals for the NGSS-aligned curriculum
NGSS-aligned curriculum is designed to help students go beyond memorizing obscure facts and become engaged in science practice by acquiring their own knowledge through problem-based, hands-on learning.
By implementing these standards, the goal is that students will be prepared for future professional pursuits. The hope is that it will also improve U.S. rankings in science and math so that students will have the skills they need to be successful in a growing world economy that is largely focused on STEM.
To help teachers be prepared in discussing science topics, STEMscopes NGSS is available to support science curriculum that aligns with the Next Generation Science Standards. Through hands-on kits, digital and print materials, students gain hands-on learning that can increase their potential to learn complex topics.