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"National" Science Framework

Last updated: July 13, 2010

Framework for “National” Science Standards Available for Review and Comment

A working draft of the National Research Council’s conceptual framework to guide the development of “next generation” standards for science education is online and available for review and comment by the public. This framework is the first step in a process for revising existing standards in K-12 science education which were published over a decade ago.
The existing standards and benchmarks, developed in the early to mid 1990s by the National Research Council and the American Association for the Advancement of Science, respectively, have been used by many states as the basis for developing their own state standards. California did not use these documents in developing our state standards in 1997-98.

The National Research Council (NRC) convened a panel of 18 experts to develop the framework. The committee members, working as volunteers, represent expertise in the natural sciences, learning sciences, learning and teaching, curriculum, assessment, and education policy. The next step in the process will be the development of a full set of standards based on the framework. Achieve, a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit, has been tasked with working closely with states to develop the standards. It is unclear how, if at all, these standards will be used as “common core” standards to be adopted by the states, much as the mathematics and language arts common core standards are now being debated and adopted by states. California’s Academic Standards Commission is currently reviewing the common core standards in math and language arts for possible adoption by the California State Board of Education.

The NRC is asking for feedback on the draft conceptual framework. Reviewers are asked to focus their feedback on four main issues:

(1) Does the framework identify the most important ideas and practices for K-12 science education and describe them accurately?
(2) Are there any important major areas of science that have been overlooked and are important for ALL students to know?
(3) Are the progressions across grades appropriate?
(4) Is the framework organized in a way that is accessible and understandable?

The period for public comment runs from July 12 through August 2, after which the committee will consider all of the submitted comments and make appropriate revisions to the framework.
The NRC reminds reviewers that the document is a framework only; it is not a set of fully elaborated standards. Therefore, it does not include an articulation of the ideas and practices at every grade level. Instead, it offers descriptions only at some key grade level “anchor points.” Similarly, it does not provide specifications for performance expectations for all of the ideas and practices at these anchor points. Rather, it offers some examples to serve as illustrations for standards development.

The final report is expected to be publicly released in the first quarter of 2011.

The draft framework and survey can be found at http://www7.nationalacademies.org/bose/Standards_Framework_Preliminary_Public_Draft.pdf