Lead State: Washington

The archive below summarizes content from the state's application for Lead State Partner in 2011. 

Interested in implementation? Learn more about NGSS design and find state and district implementation resources.

Click here to visit the current Washington Science Standards webpage


State Superintendent: Randy Dorn

Primary Point of Contact: Ellen Ebert — Science Director for Teaching and Learning

The following summarizes content from the state's application for Lead State Partner in 2011.

Partner Organizations:  Washington STEM; The Center for Inquiry Science; Northwest Cascade and Olympic Project; Science Notebook Project; University of Washington; Institute for Science and Math Education; Western Washington University; Central Washington University; Seattle Pacific University; Washington State Leadership and Assistance for Science Education Reform (LASER); Pacific Northwest National Laboratories; Pacific Science Center; Educational Service Districts; Washington State Science Teachers Association; The Institute for Science and Math Education; The Teachers of Teachers of Science; Washington Roundtable; Partnership for Learning; McKinstry; Islandwood; Battelle; Pacific Science Center; Seattle Public Schools; Boeing.

Background:      Washington requires all students to complete two credits of science, one being a lab science, to graduate from high school. The Washington State Science Standards, adopted in 2009, are organized by grade band K–1, 2–3, 4–5, 6–8, 9–12, and contain both content standards and performance expectations. The standards additionally contain four Essential Academic Learning Requirements (Systems, Inquiry, Application, and Core Content Skills of Life, Physical and Earth and Space Science) which are introduced in elementary grades and built upon through high school. The Washington State Measurements of Student Progress (MSP) assesses students in science in grades 5 and 8, and high school students are assessed through an end-of-course exam in biology. Additional end-of-course exams have been proposed, however have not yet been implemented, and Washington is anticipating that the NGSS will impact and inform these developments. Washington does not have a mandated standards adoption cycle; however standards are typically revised every four to six years, most recently in 2009 under the authority of the State Superintendent. Washington is planning on doing an intensive review of the NGSS once finalized in order to fully consider adoption.

Commitment:     Washington State has shown strong commitment to standards based learning through their adoption of the Common Core State Standards and their position as a governing state in SMARTER Balanced. Additionally, Washington has a strong record of science advocacy and has demonstrated support of science education through numerous state programs focusing on science, organizational partnerships, and the development of Washington STEM by private sector business leaders. Due to these current practices Washington has the leadership, budget, political will, and state capacity to become a strong partner in the development of the Next Generation Science Standards.

STEM Involvement:      Washington has strong STEM subject associations, partnerships and programs in place throughout the state.  Additionally, the State Board of Education, the Legislature, and institutions of higher education have all begun work to further STEM education. In 2009 the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) developed a Washington State Strategic Plan for Science which included: (1) alignment of standards to curriculum, assessment, and instruction; (2) development of appropriate professional development; (3) recruitment, preparation, and retention of science teachers; (4) building of community support for science and mathematics; (5) conducting research on educational improvement efforts and models. Additionally, the legislature has begun development of STEM Lighthouse Schools, passed House Bill 1447 to promote innovation in public schools, funded FIRST Robotics, Imagine Tomorrow, the Intel Science Talent Search, and the national Junior Science and Humanities Symposium. Washington additionally has worked with many organizations in promoting STEM education equity through the Washington State Mathematics, Engineering, and Science Achievement, University of Washington’s Institute for Science and Math Education, and Washington STEM.

Alliances and Infrastructure:      Washington has an extensive network of businesses and organizations surrounding science education that have assisted and have the ability to continue to assist with standards development, implementation, and science education. Washington State Leadership and Assistance for Science Education Reform (LASER), a partnership program developed by the National Science Resources Center, OSPI, Pacific Northwest National Laboratories, Pacific Science Center, and Educational Service Districts, co-lead by Battelle and the Pacific Science Center, is significant in providing statewide support in science instructional materials, material refurbishment, and professional development. The North Cascades and Olympic Science Partnership’s Science Educator and Professional Development Provider Resources are used throughout the state as connectors between teachers, students, and administrators to improve classroom practice and advance effective science teaching.  Along the same lines, the Washington Science Teachers Association upholds a professional network to support the development and growth of science teachers throughout the state. Washington also engages higher education through The Institute for Science and Math Education and The Teachers of Teachers of Science, both of which are involved in teacher preparation, and creating partnerships with K–12 education organizations. This thorough network of partnerships has allowed Washington to develop a strong science education background, which will enable widespread support in potential NGSS implementation.