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Exploring the NAS Framework for New Science Education Standards

Eric Brunsell

Asst Professor of Science Education @ UW-Oshkosh
Related Tags: Assessment, All Grades, Science
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On July 12th, the National Academies of Science released a draft of the Framework for New Science Education Standards.

On July 12th, the National Academies of Science released a draft of the Framework for New Science Education Standards. The framework consists of seven chapters and almost 200 pages.  It clearly identifies three "dimensions" of science education that must be woven together into standards, instruction and assessment: 1) Disciplinary core ideas in life science, earth and space sciences, physical sciences, and engineering; 2) Cross Cutting Elements including cross-cutting scientific concepts and topics in science, engineering, technology, and society; and 3) scientific and engineering practices.

Learning progressions are central to the framework.  Learning progressions provide a coherent description of how core ideas in science and engineering build throughout K-12.

The framework embraces the mantra, less is more, and states, "Reduction of the sheer sum of details to be mastered give time for students to engage in scientific investigations and argumentation and to achieve depth of understanding of the material that is included."

Visit my blog at Teaching Science 2.0 for more details on the development of the framework.

I have provided a summary of the framework in three parts.  The first part explores the premises and guiding principles of the framework document.  The second part explores an example learning progression and the core disciplinary ideas presented in "Dimension 1."  The final part explores dimensions 2 and 3 and includes an example of a performance expectation for one sub-question of a core idea.

Please add your thoughts to these VoiceThreads!

Part One: Foundations of the Conceptual Framework

(Expanded View)


Part Two: Dimension 1 - Disciplinary Core Ideas

(Expanded View)


Part Three: Dimensions 2&3 - Cross-Cutting Elements & Science and Engineering Practices.

(Expanded View)

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Eric Brunsell

Asst Professor of Science Education @ UW-Oshkosh

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Jane Krauss's picture
Jane Krauss
Teacher, curriculum and program developer, author, PBL facilitator, techie

Hi Eric. In the second slide set you mention learning progressions and show a table that relates the progression across grade bands. Are these resources available on the NAS Web site?
On a larger point, thank you so much for introducing me to this new initiative. It reminds me of what NCTM has done with its Focal Points. Regarding the point that teachers might not find their favorite units in the Framework-- I think they can use the topics of that unit to get at core understanding... they just need to think harder about the conceptual understanding, the key scientific ideas those units address. That said we're moving beyond science-y content for contents sake and sometimes that favorite eared seals unit just has to go!

Eric Brunsell's picture
Eric Brunsell
Asst Professor of Science Education @ UW-Oshkosh

Thanks Jane!
If you click on the "Framework" link in the first sentence, you can download the entire Framework for New Science Education Standards from the National Academies of Science. All of the learning progressions are in Chapter 7. Please remember that this document is still in the draft stage, so there will likely be changes to the learning progressions before the final version is released this winter.

The direct link to the framework is here:

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