Next Generation Science Standards


Through a collaborative, state-led process, new K-12 science standards  have been developed that are rich in content and practice and arranged in a coherent manner across disciplines and grades to provide all students a science education that is internationally benchmarked. The NGSS are based on the Framework for K-12 Science Education developed by the National Research Council.

About the Standards

The Next Generation Science Standards--NGSS are distinct from prior science standards in that they integrate three dimensions (Practices, Crosscutting, Concepts, and Core Ideas) within each standard and have intentional connections across standards. To provide guidance and clarification to user, the writers have created a system architecture that highlights the standards as well as each of the three integral dimensions and connections to other grade bands and subjects.


The Next Generation Science Standards are expected were completed in 2013. They identify content and science and engineering practices that all students should learn from kindergarten to high school graduation. During the standards development process, California began to draft plans for the implementation of the NGSS. This process will affect curriculum, instruction, assessment, and teacher development. In addition, pre-service teacher education will change to reflect the new standards.  Updates on the state adoption process and timeline is found on the California Department of Education NGSS web site.

K-12 Science Education Framework

The Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) derive from the National Research Council K-12 Science Education Framework. The Framework provides a vision for developing world-class standards, curricula, instruction, and assessment in science.

The Framework reflects the recognition that science, engineering, and technology permeate every aspect of modern life. Knowledge of science and engineering is required to make informed everyday decisions, such as selecting among alternate medical treatments or knowing how to buy an energy-efficient furnace, as well as to understand major public issues we face today.

The Framework is a foundation for a common vision and common standards across the U.S. of what students finishing high school should know and be able to do in science. The movement by most of the states to adopt common standards in mathematics and in the language arts has prompted the call for comparable standards in science to guide state reform.

Scientific and Engineering Practices

The first dimension of the K-12 Science Education Framework focuses on important practices used by scientists and engineers: modeling, developing explanations, and engaging in argumentation. These practices have too often been underemphasized in K-12 science education. They include:

  1. Asking questions (for science) and defining problems (for engineering)
  2. Developing and using models
  3. Planning and carrying out investigations
  4. Analyzing and interpreting data
  5. Using mathematics and computational thinking
  6. Constructing explanations (for science) and designing solutions (for engineering)
  7. Engaging in argument from evidence
  8. Obtaining, evaluating, and communicating information

Crosscutting Concepts

The second dimension of the Framework are crosscutting concepts that are found across fields in science. These crosscutting concepts are:

  1. Patterns
  2. Cause and effect: mechanism and explanation
  3. Scale, proportion, and quantity
  4. Systems and system models
  5. Energy and matter: flows, cycles, and conversation
  6. Structure and function
  7. Stability and change

Core Ideas in Four Disciplinary Areas

The third dimension of the Framework consists of the core ideas in the four central disciplinary areas of science. These core ideas are:

Physical Sciences

PS 1: Matter and its interactions
PS 2: Motion and stability: Forces and interactions
PS 3: Energy
PS 4: Waves and their applications in technologies for information transfer

Life Sciences

LS 1: From molecules to organisms: Structures and processes
LS 2: Ecosystems: Interactions, energy, and dynamics
LS 3: Heredity: Inheritance and variation of traits
LS 4: Biological Evolution: Unity and diversity

Earth and Space Sciences

ESS 1: Earth’s place in the universe
ESS 2: Earth’s systems
ESS 3: Earth and human activity

Engineering, Technology, and the Applications of Science

ETS 1: Engineering design
ETS 2: Links among engineering, technology, science, and society

Resources: NGSS

Next Generation Science Standards Web Site

California Department of Education Next Generation Science Standards Web Site

California Science Teachers Association Next Generation Science Standards Web Site

NSTA Guide for Leading a Study Group on NGSS, Second Public Draft (.pdf

Resources: K-12 Science Framework

National Research Council K-12 Science Education Framework

A Framework for K-12 Science Education Standards: Report Brief (.pdf)

The NSTA Reader's Guide to the Framework for K-12 Science Education (.pdf)

The Opportunity Equation: The National Research Council's Framework for K-12 Science Education: An Opportunity to Transform Science Education

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