State Superintendent of Education: June St. Clair Atkinson
Primary Point of Contact: Beverly Vance — Section Chief, K–12 Science, Curriculum, and Instruction
Partner Organizations: The Beaumont Foundation; DonorsChoose; the North Carolina Biotechnology Center; Lowe’s Charitable and Educational Foundation; International Paper and National Geographic Explorer!; Toshiba America Foundation; Burroughs Wellcome Fund; Center for Inquiry Based Learning; Contemporary Science Center; The JASON Academy; Kenan Fellows Program; Meridan; North Carolina Association for Biomedical Research; NC Office of Environmental Education; NC Mathematics and Science Education Network; NC Math and Science Partnership Grants; NCSS Education Foundation; NC Science Leadership Association; NC Science Teachers Association; NC Sea Grant; NC Wise Owl; New Schools Project; Regionally Increasing Baccalaureate Nurses (RIBN) Advisory Committee; Raising Interest in Science Education (RISE); SAS in Schools; Schoolhouse of Wonder; The Science House; Science Junction; SERVE; Shodor Education Foundation; Sigma Xi Partners in Education Program; Teachers and Scientists Collaborating; A Time for Science; UNC TV; The North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics; The North Carolina Virtual Public Schools; The Golden Leaf Foundation; Engineering is Elementary; 21st Century Community Learning Centers; 4-H; Aurora Fossil Museum; Carolina Raptor Center; Catawba Science Center; Colburn Earth Science Museum; Discovery Place; Fascinate-U Children’s Museum; Grassroots Science Museums; Morehead Planetarium and Science Center; NC Zoo; Piedmont Environmental Center.
Background: Students must complete at least three credits of science, including physical science, biology, and environmental science, in order to graduate from a North Carolina public high school. North Carolina Science Essential Standards are organized by grade level K–8 and by course in high school. Science is assessed through the North Carolina End-of-Grade tests in grades 5, 8, and through an end of course assessment in high school Biology. North Carolina recently adopted new science standards (February 2010) and implementation is currently planned for the fall of 2012. The newly adopted standards are based off of many of the documents that helped to form the NRC’s A Framework for K–12 Science Education such as the NAEP 2009 Science Framework, the College Board Science Standards for College Success, NSTA’s Science Anchors initiative, the NRC’s National Science Education Standards, and AAAS’s Benchmarks for Science Literacy. These documents allow the North Carolina Science Essential Standards to be similar in content to the NGSS, and therefore will allow for an easy transition. The revision period for NC standards is at least once every five years, therefore the anticipated NGSS date of 2014 would coincide with the current NC timeline.
Commitment: North Carolina has shown a strong commitment to standards based learning through its adoption of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) and its position as a governing state in SMARTER Balanced. North Carolina’s recent standards review process allowed state leaders and teachers to become familiar with many of the core ideas represented in the National Research Council Framework, and therefore will be a smooth transition with the NGSS standards. North Carolina has also upheld relationships with the national science community through state memberships with the Council of State Science Supervisors (CSSS) and the Council of Chief State School Officers’ State Collaborative on Assessment and Student Standards (SCASS).
STEM Involvement: Governor Beverly Perdue developed the JobsNOW initiative to generate jobs and train and retrain North Carolina’s workforce in order to develop a foundation for a strong and sustainable economic future. The Joining our Businesses and Schools (JOBS) Commission, developed by Lieutenant Governor Walter Dalton, focuses on community business and education leaders working together to improve rigor and relevance for high school students. NC is currently finalizing its STEM Education strategic plan which will outline STEM Education reform throughout the state. Once finished, this plan hopes to: 1) leverage Race to the Top funds to support great teachers and leaders, quality standards and assessments, and turnaround of lowest-achieving schools and high quality data systems to improve instructions; 2) use Project Lead the Way (PLTW) programs to encourage students to enter the engineering profession; 3) open STEM Career Academies in Career and Technical Education (CTE); 4) develop 20 STEM schools through New Schools Project using Race to the Top funds; 5) expand Career & College Promise, a state initiative to broaden and strengthen duel-enrollment and post-secondary completion; and 6) assist the nine Transformation schools which have STEM as a strategy for improvement. It is anticipated that these and other STEM efforts will help develop a strong STEM workforce for the growing number of careers in these areas within the state.
Alliances and Infrastructure: North Carolina has formed relationships and partnerships with numerous organizations, both public and private, that support education efforts throughout the state and will be essential in adopting and implementing the NGSS. The alliances with entities such as The Hunt Institute, The Burroughs Wellcome Fund, and the NC STEM Community Collaborative will be able to bring global insight into the developing standards and enable them to become globally competitive. NC also has numerous grants and foundations that focus on professional development and teacher quality which assist teachers statewide. State networks, such as the North Carolina Association for Biomedical Research, NC Mathematics and Science Education Network, Teachers and Scientists Collaborating, NC Science Leadership Association and the NC Science Teachers Association work to promote learning in STEM subjects, and are viable resources in improving science education. North Carolina also has support from museums such as the Aurora Fossil Museum, Carolina Raptor Center, Catawba Science Center, Colburn Earth Science Museum, Discovery Place, Fascinate-U Children’s Museum, Grassroots Science Museums, Morehead Planetarium and Science Center, and Piedmont Environmental Center. These among countless other organizations throughout the state assist with improving science education.
Check back soon for more information on North Carolina's state team and implementation plans