TOPS of Santa Clara Valley

Teaching Opportunities  for  Partners  in Science


Science education is undergoing dramatic change.  The new guidelines from the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) called,  A Framework for K-12 Science Education: Practices, Crosscutting Concepts, and Core Ideas and the Next Generation Science Standards: For States, By States, are designed to guide educators in significantly altering the way science is taught, from kindergarten through high school (K-12).  The following description of the guidelines was taken from the summary of the NAS report entitled, “Developing Assessments for the Next Generation Science Standards.”  A copy of this 289 page report is available as a PDF from The National Academies Press at

    The framework is aimed at making science education more closely resemble the way scientists actually work and think. It is also aimed at making instruction reflect research on learning that demonstrates the importance of building coherent understandings over time.  The framework structures science learning around three dimensions: the practices through which scientists and engineers do their work; the key crosscutting concepts that link the science disciplines; and the core ideas of the disciplines of life sciences, physical sciences, earth and space sciences, and engineering and technology. It argues that they should be interwoven in every aspect of science education, most critically, curriculum, instruction, and assessment. The framework emphasizes the importance of the connections among the disciplinary core ideas, such as using understandings about chemical     interactions from physical science to explain biological phenomena.

    The term “three-dimensional science learning” is used to refer to the integration of the three dimensions described above.  It does not describe the process of learning, but instead the kind of thinking and understanding that science education should foster. The framework and the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) are also grounded in the ideas that science learning develops over time and assessments will need to mark students’ progress toward specific learning objectives.  This new vision of science learning presents considerable challenges, but also a unique and valuable opportunity for assessment.

A detailed description of the specific plan that is now being implemented for middle schools in many Santa Clara Valley school districts can be saved, renamed, viewed and/or printed by clicking on the blue button below.