Californian Abandons NGSS – Sort Of

6 Jan

In California, education technocrats are busy replacing the Clinton era science standards with the even worse Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) – sort of.

Standards based education and testing have cursed schools for millennia. Powerful people who never stood in front of a classroom demand that educators be held accountable by an ancient education ideology.

The Nobel Prize winning scientist Glenn Seaborg is credited with leading the development of the first California State Science Standards. Professor Seaborg was Chairman of the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission under presidents Kennedy, Johnson, and Nixon. He was a member of President Reagan’s National Commission on Excellence in Education which wrote the unsupported polemic “Nation at Risk.”

However, Professor Seaborg was not an expert on either early childhood education or secondary education. The familiar pattern emerges; people with limited education background are making decisions about instruction, while experts are ignored.

The science standards produced in California were at least workable. They inhibited creativity and coupled with the big test thwarted progress toward improving classroom instruction but, they covered basic science in a coherent manner.

The new NGSS has all of the inherent problems associated with standards based education plus they are incoherent.

To their credit, California education technocrats recognized that the NGSS were awful. To their discredit, California adopted the NGSS knowing it must be rewritten. The State Board of Education reports:

 “Revising the Science Framework to align with the new science standards is an important component in the implementation of the Next Generation Science Standards for California Public Schools (CA NGSS) adopted by the SBE [State Board of Education] in September 2013. The revision of the Science Framework is a multi-step process involving the Science Curriculum Framework and Evaluation Criteria Committee (CFCC), the Instructional Quality Commission (IQC), and SBE.”

The new California science framework represents a significant change. A 60-day comment period on the new draft finishes this January 19th. Another round of edits and another comment period are scheduled before public hearings on the proposed new framework in the fall. Who knows when the standards will also be rewritten? Yes, California has abandoned NGSS – sort of.

In 1996, Louis Gerstner hosted the US Governors Association at the IBM conference facilities in Palisades, New York. He and the other 48 business men there forcefully called for national standards. The 40 governors in attendance responded by establishing their own non-governmental non-profit, Achieve Inc. Louis Gerstner was named chairman of Achieve and given a mandate to create and sell national standards. No professional educators were involved.

The Carnegie Foundation was chosen to oversee the development of “a new conceptual framework” which elevated engineering to equal rank with science and conceived of 13 science and engineering standards that would be taught from kindergarten through twelfth grade. The original Framework states:

 “The framework is designed to help realize a vision for education in the sciences and engineering in which students, over multiple years of school, actively engage in scientific and engineering practices and apply crosscutting concepts to deepen their understanding of the core ideas in these fields.”

 Without ever piloting these concepts in classrooms, the NGSS was published and state leaders were convinced to adopt them. Achieve Incorporated holds the copyright on the NGSS.

Elevating engineering to the same status as science is wrong headed. Science is the foundation of engineering. Science is a prerequisite to engineering. Differentiation between science and engineering need not happen before upper division at universities. K-12 students need basic science delivered by teachers excited about the subject.

The 13 NGSS standards are repeatedly assigned to each grade level in a somewhat randomized manor (about 5 standards each year). Adding the three dimensions of learning (core ideas, associated practices, and crosscutting concepts) plus engineering makes these science standards not just bad theory but unintelligible.

In 600 AD, China was the most advanced country in the world in science – some estimates say at least 400 years ahead of any other nation. They instituted standardized education with testing accountability and all scientific progress halted. They became unable to defend themselves after the industrial revolution.

Standardized education’s main advantage is population control but it inhibits cultural progress.

Final decisions about education should be left to local jurisdictions.

Federal and state education departments could enhance professional peer review processes by supporting curriculum research. Local communities and professional educators should be freed to select and implement fresh ideas about curriculum that they find appealing for their circumstances. In this manor, popular ideas will be adopted and bad ideas will die naturally.

We need to improve education but today’s misguided “corporate education reform” causes great harm. We have a good system for tracking education progress (NAEP testing). We have the best educated and trained teaching force in the history of the United States. Unfortunately standards based education squanders this talent and opens the door for; fraud, abuse, segregation and waste.

Louis Gerstner and Bill Gates, without whom there would be no NGSS or Common Core, are billionaires not education experts. Their education thinking is shallow and amateurish. Reason dictates that we let experienced professionals lead education.

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3 Responses to “Californian Abandons NGSS – Sort Of”

  1. janisexton January 8, 2016 at 4:20 pm #

    Yes, Big Government and those with money and power, with no knowledge of our children’s needs, nor what really is developmentally appropriate have impacted the education of our children….

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Education Discernments for 2017 | tultican - December 28, 2016

    […]  Louis Gerstner (RJR Nabisco and IBM – CEO) instigated the NGSS standards. They are so poorly written that California adopted them and then started a rewrite. […]

  2. I Am Done – I Hope Public Education is Not | tultican - May 24, 2017

    […] two decade effort are the Next Generation Science Standards and they are awful. I wrote about them here, here and […]

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