This summer, I took a step and joined a book study. I was not really sure what the book was about, but I wanted to use my time this summer to squeeze in a learning opportunity. The book was “NGSS for All Students”. This book is centered on the new Next Generation Science Standards. While talking about the design of the standards, the book also provides real life examples of teachers implementing the standards. As a classroom teacher, it was helpful to hear from other teachers about how they are implementing the standards. I learned so much from reading the text as well as participating in the twitter chats learning with other teachers.
Last school year was my first exposure to the new science standards. As far as I was concerned they were just like every other set of standards – impersonal delegations that teachers were now expected to teach their students. I didn’t know the process in which standards were designed. I had no knowledge of the thinking behind the standards. So, when I made it to chapter two of the book, I became personally invested in the science standards. I learned how all students were considered in the design and had a clear role in science education.
“Equity demands that every students has the opportunity to develop the capabilities and understanding they will need to make life and citizenship decisions that involve interpreting scientific information and data.”
The authors made it so clear to me – not every child was going to grow up and be a scientist- yet, every students could use the skills learned in their adult life. The goal was no longer to force feed science to students who may or may not like it. Thus, pushing side those students who have no interest or desire. The goal has transformed to emphasizing skills such as problem solving and making choices based on data while learning science concepts in order to grow each child and their chance to be successful post-secondary education.
Students have become the focus of the new science standards. Before the designer even began to write the actual standards, there was a responsibility to ensure the team itself was diverse. The team worked to make sure every diverse group had access to the standards. Teams combed through the standards reviewing for bias and making corrections. Diversity and Equity were not an afterthought in the design process; they were part of the roots as teams designed each standard.
Standards are not just for those who were dealt a better hand then others. As an African American woman, I have experienced my share of educational standards that were not designed with me in mind. Standards and classroom experiences had been made with a different student in mind and I was welcome to ‘tag along’, but not important enough to be considered in the design. After reading Chapter 4, I was convinced that the NGSS was different! The new science standards are breaking the mold. They have set a precedence, not concerned about popularity or likability. It is strictly focused on the principal that ALL students have the right to learn science and be exposed to the best science education possible. Regardless of their diverse background, socio-economic status, or gender.
The science standards place equity and diversity as a priority and that is something that I believe every educator can stand behind. The new standards requires much for educators, you must be willing to step out your comfort level in your classroom. You will need to build relationships with your students and be purposeful in your teaching, designing and assessing. There is no ‘winging it’ with the standards, which I am glad to say. I have a personal investment in our education system. My children may walk into your classroom, desperate for learning and I am pleased to know the information they must learn has considered them. I am willing to be uncomfortable and learn a new way of teaching if the result is my students won’t question whether or not they can be successful beyond school. With the Next Generation Science Standards, we are teaching every student, no matter their background, the skills they will need to be successful tomorrow. Every child is included and every child was considered.