District Implements New Generation Science Standards

By Shane Lavezzo

In an effort to provide students with a deeper understanding and application of content, the Tam High Unified School District (TUHSD) will implement the New Generation Science Standards(NGSS) in fall of 2018.  

After being developed for over five years by teachers all over the district to fit students needs, TUHSD will replace the current science curriculum with NGSS in hopes to create a more unified system, as shown in its motto “All Students, All Standards.” posted at the top of the NGSS website. NGSS will include courses containing the three dimensions: practices, crosscutting, and core ideas. Integrated science will be replaced with foundational sciences such as physics, chemistry, biology, and even engineering courses.

As is normal with most major changes that affect students, many questioned what the need was for such a change. The TUHSD Science Task Force believes that NGSS is necessary because, “California State Standards are almost 20 years old, and since that time, major advances have taken place in the world of science, and in our understanding of how students learn science effectively,” they said.   

Integrated Science 1-2 teacher Jennifer Brown believes that NGSS is a positive change describing it as “less memorization based and more focused, conceptual understanding of how things work in the world. I think from a student’s perspective that is inherently more interesting.” Brown has been an advocate for NGSS since the beginning and believes it will be an improvement for both teachers and students. 

“To get it going will be a lot of work, but from my perspective I feel like it is more interesting and fun,” she said.

All teachers are currently implementing NGSS principles in how they teach, however, the new courses replacing integrated science will not be rolled out until Fall of 2018. Initially NGSS will only affect 9th graders and up, but the goal is for it to span K-12.

When fully implemented, NGSS will serve as 3-4 years worth of high school science classes. Freshman will take Physics in the Universe, sophomores will take the Living Earth, and juniors will take Chemistry in Earth Systems. All courses will be UC “D” approved, meaning they will meet the requirements to be a laboratory science. All UCs require at least two years of laboratory sciences, and strongly suggest three.  Students will have the opportunity to double up if they want to, and advanced options such as AP and honors classes will be available.

TUHSD said that NGSS will allow students to “complete all elements of the foundational sciences. The focus on college readiness, and science and engineering practices will better prepare all students for post-secondary options.”