September 20, 2011
State Schools Chief Tom Torlakson Announces California
Will Lead Effort in Writing New National Science Standards
SACRAMENTO—Demonstrating the state's leadership in science, technology, and its commitment to 21st century learning, California has been chosen as one of 20 states to lead a nationwide effort to develop the next generation of science standards for public schools, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson announced today.
"From our universities to our laboratories, California has always led the way in science and technology, so it's only fitting that we help craft the next generation of science lessons for students," Torlakson said. "Having a hand in shaping these standards will give other states the benefit of our success as a technology leader, and give California's education system and our own students a leg up in preparing for their futures in a science and tech-savvy world."
A recent U.S. Department of Commerce study found that over the past 10 years, growth in jobs involving science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (known as the STEM fields) was three times greater than that of non-STEM occupations. The report also forecast that STEM jobs are expected to continue to grow at a faster rate than others in the coming decade. STEM-related industries continue to be a major factor in California's economy.
The 20 lead state partners selected to develop the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) are Arizona, California, Georgia, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Tennessee, Vermont, Washington, and West Virginia. NGSS will clearly articulate the science standards that are defined as the educational content and practices students will need to learn from kindergarten through high school.
"The lead state partners will provide important leadership and guidance throughout the development of the Next Generation Science Standards and are to be congratulated for making a strong commitment to improving science education," said Michael Cohen, president of Achieve, a nonprofit organization heading up the effort. "This will be a collaborative process that will lead to a set of standards that provides America's students a strong foundation in science and supports college and career readiness for all."
The development of NGSS is a two-step process. The first step was the building of a framework that identified the core ideas and practices in natural sciences and engineering that all students should be familiar with by the time they graduate. In July, the National Research Council released A Framework for K-12 Science Education, developed by a committee representing expertise in science, teaching and learning, curriculum, assessment, and education policy. For more information on the Framework, please visit The National Academies Web site at National-Academies.org | Newsroom [http://www8.nationalacademies.org/onpinews/newsitem.aspx?RecordID=13165] .
The second step is the development of science standards based on the Framework. As a lead state partner, California will help guide the standard writing process, gather and deliver feedback from state-level committees, and come together to address common issues and challenges. The lead state partners also agree to commit staff time to the initiative and, upon completion, give serious consideration to adopting the NGSS. In order to be considered, states had to submit a letter with the signature of the Chief State School Officer and the chair of the State Board of Education.
For more information on NGSS, please visit the Achieve Web site at Achieve, Inc. [http://www.achieve.org/] .
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Tom Torlakson —
State Superintendent of Public Instruction
Communications Division, Room 5602, 916-319-0818, Fax 916-319-0100