Fordham not pulling punches on NGSS draft 2

The recent Fordham report on the NGSS second draft isn’t pulling any punches. Check out these quotes:

  • “If draft 2.0 were to become the final version of NGSS, only states with exceptionally weak science standards of their own would likely benefit from replacing them with these “next generation” standards.” (p. 6)
  • “There are only infrequent and vague references to important mathematics content, which weakens some of the science standards (particularly in the physical science standards in the upper grades)” (p. 3)
  • NGSS is “an expansionist conception of appropriate pedagogy for K-12 science education” that suffers from “omission and overgeneralization of scientific content” (p. 11)
  • “These standards are primarily a vision of altered pedagogy for K-12 science, secondarily about acquiring and understanding a reduced but ostensibly more sophisticated (deeper) sample of basic science content knowledge.” (p. 14)
  • “In general, there is nothing in this document that could furnish a basis for the design of a traditional high school physics course or chemistry course. Even for some kind of an introductory ninth-grade physical science course, the material is pretty thin.” (p. 16)
  • “Concepts needed to support high school-level standards frequently avoid using appropriate vocabulary and/or lack sufficient background development in earlier grades. This weakens the high school program and results in students who are ill-prepared for university-level courses in physics, chemistry, and engineering.” (p. 18)
  • Earth science content at the secondary level is “not supported by elementary background information. This is explicitly a failure of the standards themselves and not something that can readily be remedied in curriculum design.” (p. 27)

I share some of their concerns regarding the content and I think they’re right about the pedagogical aims of the standards as well, despite various statements from the NGSS folks to the contrary. It’s certainly unusual for a standards document to try to prescribe pedagogy, but is it a bad thing? The folks at Fordham clearly think so.

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