A panel of reviewers convened by the National Research Council has concluded that the final Next Generation Science Standards issued this month are consistent with an NRC framework document that sought to guide their development.
This "fidelity check" had long been planned to provide some assurance that the 26 lead states and their partners who set out to write the standards did not stray from the vision for science education articulated in the framework, according to Heidi Schweingruber, the deputy director of the congressionally chartered NRC's Board on Science Education.
The NRC back in 2010 first convened a panel of experts in science and education to draft the framework document, called "A Framework for K-12 Science Education: Practices, Crosscutting Concepts, and Core Ideas." In fact, Schweingruber and others tell me the standards really should be read alongside the NRC framework. (With all due respect to the standards-writers, most people will find the framework a more reader-friendly document.)
"The standards are more of a technical document," she said. "The framework really fleshes out" the ideas behind the standards. "It provides a deeper description of the content, of the practices." In fact, she said, as curriculum and instructional materials are developed, she suggests that the framework "is going to be a place to go to look at the richness of what you want students to [learn and experience]."
Unfortunately, Schweingruber said she does not yet have clearance to release the names of the reviewers at this time, but she said the NRC will do so when it releases a forthcoming document that describes the fidelity check. But she said the reviewers include some members of the original NRC framework committee, as well as "individuals who were very familiar with the framework and have science expertise." I will update this blog post with that information as soon as I have it. (You can find the members of the NRC framework committee at the bottom of this press release.)
The review actually began when the second public draft of the standards was issued in January, Schweingruber said. But then the NRC reviewers received an early copy of the final standards as well.
"The decision was that the NGSS are consistent with the framework," Schweingruber said in an email. But she cautioned that this should not be read as an endorsement of the standards.
"In general, the NRC as an independent body that provides guidance on scientific evidence doesn't 'endorse' things developed by other organizations," she said. "Rather, the review means that the experts who looked at the [Next Generation Science Standards] thought they were consistent in both content and structure with what was called for in the framework."