I’m getting agitated.
My school district is two years into our NGSS Transition Plan (2013-2017), which I helped to develop. I’ve been satisfied that I’ve led teachers and leaders in learning about the major NGSS Innovations, and I’ve written a number of blog posts about this work:
Three-dimensional learning and assessment: Science & Engineering Practices (SEP), Crosscutting Concepts (CCC), and Disciplinary Core Ideas (DCI).
Engineering: Solving human problems with the Define-Develop-Optimize process.
Integration with Common Core State Standards: English Language Arts and Mathematics.
Over a year before NGSS was adopted, we showed great foresight by focusing on the Claim-Evidence-Reasoning structure for scientific explanations. When WA adopted NGSS (Oct. 2013), we made sensible 4-year NGSS Transition Plans that started with a focus on the Practices (especially explanation) and Engineering. Since then, several super-helpful NGSS resources have been released to support the implementation (e.g. Classroom Assessment Tasks; Evidence Statements; EQuIP Rubric).
So, What’s My Problem?
Lately I’ve been learning about a less-heralded feature of NGSS: equity and diversity. Actually, the more I learn, the more that I realize that it HAS been heralded loudly, but I’m only just now hearing it. Perhaps some aspect of my white privilege and/or my dominant logical-technical thinking style have been getting in the way. I’ve known for some time that Appendix D (“All Standards, All Students“) sits there, right before the Appendices (E, F, G) that are devoted to the three dimensions themselves. Hello!? Earth to Tom…this is so important that we put it right where you would notice it! When I went to the WSTA conference in Oct. 2014, two of the NGSS authors gave a keynote address about the seven equity and diversity case studies that they wrote for Appendix D…hello, again, Tom!
OK, enough of my self-imposed guilt-trip. I could go on with blaming, reasoning (excuses?), blahblahblah…but the real point here is what I’ve been thinking about and doing since I added an explicit focus on the equity and diversity features of NGSS. Keep in mind that I’m merely a white male on a long journey that’s just beginning, and I really feel out of my element in the equity and diversity arena…but I’m genuinely hopeful because of what I’m learning.
First Steps & Next Steps
The first steps that got me going with equity and diversity involved reading a number of articles, two of which I’ll mention here. The blockquotes describe nuggets from each reading that are making me rethink our NGSS implementation:
Supporting the Implementation of Equity (NARST, 2014)
Diversity is increasing. Content knowledge is filtered through the cultural lenses of teachers (and students), making it easier (or harder) to understand. It takes a system (teachers need help) to bridge cultural differences. Merely translating NGSS into curriculum and professional development is not enough to decrease science inequity gaps. See my padlet for a brief summary of the article.
“Giving Every Student A Choice” (Steven Pruitt in NGSS for All Students, 2015)
Sputnik launched intensive American growth in science and engineering education. White males benefitted far more than any other group (does it still qualify as an educational “revolution?”). Science learning influences learning in other content areas. All students deserve the opportunity to choose a STEM career, but they don’t get to choose if they don’t have opportunity-to-learn.
Right now, I think that the next steps for me will be in three main areas:
- Understanding and teaching others about the significance of equity and diversity in implementing NGSS.
- Understanding the ways in which equity and diversity are built into the NGSS (this began on Day 1).
- Learning how to leverage the built-in equity and diversity features of NGSS in order to:
- Advocate for K-5 science
- Implement NGSS with explicit attention to equity and diversity
“Science is Important”
Part of our work moving forward (but not nearly all of it) is advocating for regular science learning during the K-5 years. We have to increase the number of parents, community members, district administrators, principals, and teachers who understand that curtailing K-5 science means that we are reinforcing an inequitable access to STEM careers.
The advocacy message at right is under construction. What do you think of it:
What are some strong elements of this version?
How would you change it…and for what audiences?
What else should I be thinking about?