Delaware 7th State to Adopt NGSS

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Sept. 20, 2013 – After months of public outreach, on Sept. 19 Delaware became the seventh state to adopt the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) with a unanimous 6-0 vote from the State Board of Education. The NGSS were developed by Delaware and 25 other lead state partners in a process managed by Achieve.

A press release quoted State Board of Education President Teri Quinn Grey: “The Next Generation Science Standards provide clear and consistent, researched-based standards that engage students in science instruction that will prepare them to utilize critical thinking and creative problem-solving necessary to excel in the global society.”

Secretary of Education Mark Murphy highlighted the need for the NGSS based on a new understanding of how students learn.

“Our current standards do not emphasize science and engineering practices and don’t promote the type of deeper critical thinking skills students need to be successful after graduation,” said Murphy. “These new performance expectations will increase opportunities for all students.”

Throughout August, the Delaware Department of Education hosted a series of community events across the state to introduce the NGSS to parents, students, and other community members. The Department of Education also collected public commentary through September 5.

Recently state leadership has expressed the need to improve STEM education. In July, Governor Markell tasked the DE STEM Council, a group of education and business leaders, with boosting the number of students getting training for technical jobs in STEM fields.

As a lead state partner, Delaware committed to giving serious consideration to adopting the standards, provided direction to the NGSS writing team, participated in reviews of the standards, and formed a broad-based committee to consider issues regarding adoption and implementation.

Delaware joins six other lead states, California, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, Rhode Island, and Vermont, in formally approving the NGSS. Each is working with educators to develop a multi-year implementation strategy to provide teachers with the training and resources needed to successfully introduce the standards in classrooms.

Slow and Steady Implementation

Education officials in the adopting states are advocating moving slowly to implement the NGSS. A number of state officials were interviewed by Education Week earlier this year.

“I don’t think of a light switch,” said Peter McLaren, a science and technology specialist at the Rhode Island education department. “I think of a dimmer. The lights will come up slowly, become brighter and brighter.”

“I've cautioned, this is an opportunity to think carefully about your system of science education in your district and what needs to be revised, a three- to four-year implementation plan to do this slowly and carefully.” said Matt Krehbiel, a science education consultant for Kansas.

  • California initially plans to implement during the 2014-2015 school year at the earliest.
  • Kansas is also on a gradual four-year path toward implementation.
  • Kentucky intends to begin K-12 implementation in 2014-2015.
  • Maryland’s preliminary plans for implementation do not fully introduce the standards until 2017-2018.
  • Rhode Island’s initial four-year implementation plans move from awareness and understanding, to curriculum shifts, to instructional shifts, to assessment systems.
  • Vermont is in the process of establishing an advisory team to liaise with the state’s implementation team and communicate about the NGSS to stakeholders. Regional training meetings will continue through 2014.

States should “have the courage to be patient,” Achieve senior vice president Stephen Pruitt told Education Week. “They shouldn't be rushing to implement the standards. They should do it in their time, and when they're ready.”

What is crucial, said Pruitt, is for states and districts to “have this opportunity to build some capacity and build the right infrastructure for success.”