Skip to main content

The Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS)

The Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) are new content standards for Science.  The Common Core State Standards include literacy components in science, but they do not include the content that are the California Next Generation Science Standards (CA NGSS). However, the CA NGSS are aligned with the CCSS in English Language Arts and the CCSS for Mathematics. The current California Science Standards were adopted in 1998. In the last 15 years, there have been significant advances in science and technology; therefore updated science standards are necessary for students of California. The Next Generation Science Standards were formally adopted by the California Department of Education in September 2013, and must be fully implemented by 2016-2017. 

Understanding the Structure:

The NGSS for California includes Performance Expectations (PEs) in Life, Earth and Space, Physical Science and Engineering each year Kindergarten – Grade 8. High School PEs may be arranged as discipline specific or integrated courses. The NGSS for California can be viewed by grade level Disciplinary Core Ideas (DCI): Life Sciences, Earth and Space Sciences, and Physical Sciences or by grade level Topic (example: Chemical Reactions, Structure and Function, or Space Systems). DCI and Topic are two different ways of viewing the same PEs.

There are now Science and Engineering Practices (SEPs), which are analogous to the mathematics practices in the CCSS.  There are also Crosscutting Concepts, or CCCs, (sometimes referred to as "themes") that run across multiple units.  The Disciplinary Core Ideas (DCIs) are the content that needs to be understood in order for students to meet the Performance Expectations (PEs).  These PEs are the critical component of the standards - they are what students should be able to do when they synthesize all of those good CCCs, DCIs, and SEPs. We ask that all ESs review the NGSS organization and brief overview videos found at Next Generation Science before the end of this school year:

Implementing the Standards: 

Students need more experience with scientific thinking and real scientific experiences-in other words, students need more experiences doing science to learn about science.  The 5E model is a good start with this. Teachers and parents need a clear vision of what learning looks like under the NGSS first and foremost.  There are sample sequences in Appendix K

Students in kindergarten through fifth grade begin to develop an understanding of the four disciplinary core ideas: physical sciences; life sciences; earth and space sciences; and engineering, technology, and applications of science. In the earlier grades, students begin by recognizing patterns and formulating answers to questions about the world around them. By the end of fifth grade, students are able to demonstrate grade-appropriate proficiency in gathering, describing, and using information about the natural and designed world(s). The performance expectations in elementary school grade bands develop ideas and skills that will allow students to explain more complex phenomena in the four disciplines as they progress to middle school and high school. While the performance expectations shown in kindergarten through fifth grade couple particular practices with specific disciplinary core ideas, instructional decisions should include use of many practices that lead to the performance expectations.

New textbooks and instructional materials: 
After the SBE adopts a new Science Curriculum Framework, the review of publisher submitted Instructional Materials begins. New instructional materials for science should be available early 2018; however, many publishers have gotten a “jump start” on aligning curriculum to NGSS. See our recommended curriculum page.

Assessments for the NGSS: 
The goal of CDE is to have new science assessments ready for the 2016-17 school year, however, due to the short timeline, new science assessments will most likely not be available until the following school year.

Implementation Timeline:

There are three phases of implementation: Awareness (2013–2015), Transition (2015–2016), and Implementation (2016–2017).  Full implementation of the NGSS must be a thoughtful and deliberate process. Successful implementation of the NGSS will require students to demonstrate their understanding of how science works in new ways. Future assessments will require students to not only ‘know’ science concepts, but students must use their understanding to investigate the natural world through the practices of science inquiry or solve meaningful problems through the practices of engineering design.

For more information, please visit the California Department of Education website