Good Comment On My NGSS Op-Ed

I was very pleased with how my anti-NGSS piece turned out over at EdSource, but there were definitely issues I could have explored further. I was therefore especially glad of this comment from a reader:

Now that the NGSS has been integrated with the Common Core, there is something VERY interesting and concerning. The “evidence” in all the NGSS performance expectations for “Construct and revise an explanation based on evidence” is correlated to the common core standard “Cite specific textual evidence to support analysis of science and technical texts.” Please, PLEASE tell me that “evidence” in science class is not going to be understood to mean textual evidence, because that’s what they appear to be saying here!!! In order to teach a correctly integrated lesson, reflecting both the NGSS and the CC, I would need to be teaching about textual evidence for a given topic (ie DNA). If the performance expectation says “use evidence” and then they define evidence through the common core as “textual evidence,” then that just seems to open the door to zero collection/use of any actual data! Another wonderful ambiguity and problem!

Whether the problems play out exactly as specified in this comment or not, it may very well be the case that vagueness in the NGSS could lead to tested subjects – namely, math and ELA – “crowding out” valuable science instruction.

After all, if the NGSS do not adequately specify what science students are supposed to learn, then it’s less clear what they’re missing out on if class time is dedicated to what are essentially math or English standards. Given that the CCSS and the NGSS are both explicitly designed to be cross-curricular, science teachers can probably expect to receive (even) more pressure to spend instructional minutes on lessons that are only marginally related to science.

Of course, this is already happening to some extent. (For example, see this recent finding that “NCLB…did lead schools to reallocate time away from science and social studies and toward the tested subject of reading.”) The danger is that the NGSS will make the problem worse.

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