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10

IMPLEMENTATION
Curriculum, Instruction, Teacher Development, and Assessment

In this chapter, we consider the changes needed across the K-12 science education system so that implementation of the framework and related standards can more readily occur. Standards provide a vision for teaching and learning, but the vision cannot be realized unless the standards permeate the education system and guide curriculum, instruction, teacher preparation and professional development, and student assessment.

By “system” we mean the institutions and mechanisms that shape and support science teaching and learning in the classroom. Thus the system includes organization and administration at state, district, and school levels as well as teacher education, certification requirements, curriculum and instructional resources, assessment policies and practices, and professional development programs. Our use of the term “system,” however, does not necessarily imply that all the components of the science education system are well aligned and work together seamlessly. Rather, adopting the idea of a system (1) acknowledges the complex and interacting forces that shape learning and teaching at the classroom level and (2) provides an analytic tool for thinking about these various forces.

The next section is an overview of four major components of the K-12 science education system, and in succeeding sections we consider each of them in turn. For each component, we discuss what must be in place in order for it to align with the framework’s vision.

These discussions do not include formal recommendations and are not framed as standards for each component, because the committee was not asked to undertake the kind of extensive review—of the research on teacher education,



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10 IMPLEMENTATION Curriculum, Instruction, Teacher Development, and Assessment I n this chapter, we consider the changes needed across the K-12 science educa- tion system so that implementation of the framework and related standards can more readily occur. Standards provide a vision for teaching and learning, but the vision cannot be realized unless the standards permeate the education sys- tem and guide curriculum, instruction, teacher preparation and professional devel- opment, and student assessment. By “system” we mean the institutions and mechanisms that shape and sup- port science teaching and learning in the classroom. Thus the system includes organization and administration at state, district, and school levels as well as teacher education, certification requirements, curriculum and instructional resources, assessment policies and practices, and professional development pro- grams. Our use of the term “system,” however, does not necessarily imply that all the components of the science education system are well aligned and work togeth- er seamlessly. Rather, adopting the idea of a system (1) acknowledges the complex and interacting forces that shape learning and teaching at the classroom level and (2) provides an analytic tool for thinking about these various forces. The next section is an overview of four major components of the K-12 sci- ence education system, and in succeeding sections we consider each of them in turn. For each component, we discuss what must be in place in order for it to align with the framework’s vision. These discussions do not include formal recommendations and are not framed as standards for each component, because the committee was not asked to undertake the kind of extensive review—of the research on teacher education, 241

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curriculum, instruction, professional development, and assessment—that would be required in order to make explicit recommendations for related sets of stan- dards for each component. Indeed, the committee and the timeline for our work would have required considerable expansion in order to give such an endeavor adequate treatment. The committee instead relied on a number of recent reports from the National Research Council (NRC) that did examine research related to each of the components discussed in this chapter. They include Knowing What Students Know [1], Investigating the Influence of Standards [2], Systems for State Science Assessment [3], America’s Lab Report [4], Taking Science to School [5], and Preparing Teachers [6]. The discussions in the following sections are based primar- ily on these reports. Explicit standards for teaching, professional development, education pro- grams, and the education system were included in the original National Science Education Standards (NSES) published by the NRC in 1996 [7]. Although many of these standards are still relevant to K-12 science education today, the committee did not undertake a thorough review of these portions of the NSES. Instead, given our charge, we focused on the NSES standards that describe sci- ence content. For future efforts, we suggest that a review of the other NSES standards, in light of the research and development that has taken place since 1996, would be very valuable; such a review could serve as an important com- plement to the current effort. KEY COMPONENTS OF K-12 SCIENCE EDUCATION The key components of science education that we consider in this chapter are curriculum, instruction, teacher development, and assessment. It is difficult to focus on any particular component without considering how it is influenced by—and how it in turn influences—the other components. For example, what students learn is clearly related to what they are taught, which itself depends on many things: state science standards; the instructional materials available in the commercial market and from organizations (such as state and federal agen- cies) with science-related missions; the curriculum adopted by the local board of education; teachers’ knowledge and practices for teaching; how teachers elect to use the curriculum; the kinds of resources, time, and space that teachers have for their instructional work; what the community values regarding student learning; and how local, state, and national standards and assessments influ- ence instructional practice. A Framework for K-12 Science Education 242

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We are not attempting to provide a full discussion of all possible influ- ences on science education; rather, we focus on four major components that have critical roles to play and how they will need to evolve in order to implement the kind of science education envisaged by this framework. Our discussion also does not include detailed consideration of the process of gaining support for adoption of standards—for example, developing public will and engaging with state and local policy makers. We also do not discuss informal settings for science educa- tion, which provide many opportunities for learning science that complement and extend students’ experiences in school [8]. A Complex System Much of the complexity of science education systems derives from the multiple levels of control—classroom, school, school district, state, and national—across which curriculum, instruction, teacher development, and assessment operate; thus what ultimately happens in a classroom is significantly affected by decision mak- ing distributed across the levels and multiple channels of influence. Each teacher ultimately decides how and what to teach in his or her class- room, but this decision is influenced by decisions at higher levels of the system. First, there is the effect of decisions made at the school level, which include the setting of expectations and sequences in certain content areas as well as the princi- pal’s, department chairs’, or team leaders’ explicit and implicit signals about teach- ing and learning priorities [9]. Leaders at the school level may also make decisions about the time and resources [10] allocated to different subjects within guidelines and requirements set by the state, teacher hiring and assignments, the usage of sci- ence labs, and, in some cases, the presence of a school building’s laboratory space in the first place. The school leaders’ expectations, priorities, and decisions estab- lish a climate that encourages or discourages particular pedagogical approaches, collegial interactions, or inservice programs [11, 12]. Furthermore, a school’s degree of commitment to equity—to providing opportunities for all students to learn the same core content—can influence how students are scheduled into class- es, which teachers are hired, how they are assigned to teach particular classes, and how instructional resources are identified and allocated [13, 14]. At the next level of the system, school districts are responsible for (1) ensur- ing implementation of state and federal education policies; (2) formulating addi- tional local education policies; and (3) creating processes for selecting curricula, purchasing curriculum materials, and determining the availability of instructional resources. District leaders develop local school budgets, set instructional priorities, 243 Implementation: Curriculum, Instruction, Teacher Development, and Assessment

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provide instructional guidance, create incentive structures, and influence the will- ingness and capacity of schools and teachers to explore and implement different instructional techniques. Teacher hiring and school assignment may also occur at the district level. Districts may provide support structures and professional devel- opment networks that enhance the capacity of schools and teachers to implement effective science curriculum, instruction, and formative assessments. The state level is a particularly important one for schools. States, being con- stitutionally responsible for elementary and secondary education, play major roles in regulating and funding education—they provide nearly half of all public school revenues [15], with most of the remainder coming from local property taxes. Each state must develop and administer its own policies on standards, curriculum, materials selection and adoption, teacher licensure, student assessment, and edu- cational accountability. Across states, the authority of schools and districts to for- mulate policy varies considerably. Some states have relatively high “local control,” with more power residing at the district level; others states have more centralized control, with more influence exerted by the state. Finally, although the federal gov- ernment contributes less than 10 per- cent of all funds invested by states and local districts in education [16], it influ- ences education at all levels through a combination of regulations, public advocacy, and monetary incentives. For example, the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (No Child Left Behind Act) requires the testing of students at specific grade levels. There are also influences from the other stakeholders that have an interest in science education, such as parents, businesses, local communities, and professional societies. These stakeholders can become engaged at all levels—national, state, local—and often have a significant influence on what is taught and how it is taught. Clearly, a science education system must be responsive to a variety of influences—some that emanate from the top down, some from the bottom up, and some laterally from outside formal channels. States and school districts generally exert considerable influence over science curricula, and they set policies for time A Framework for K-12 Science Education 244

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❚ A science education system must be responsive to a variety of influences—some that emanate from the top down, some from the ❚ bottom up, and some laterally from outside formal channels. spent on science. However, classroom teachers in the lower grades may have some latitude in how they use instructional time to meet district and state mandates. In high school, by contrast, district and state graduation requirements affect the types and numbers of science courses that all students are required to take. Beyond such minimum requirements, students and their parents determine the overall science course load that each student takes. The Importance of Coherence in the System The complexity of the system—with several components that are affected by or operate at different levels—presents a challenge to implementation of the frame- work and its related standards. Successful implementation requires that all of the components across the levels cohere or work together in a harmonious or logical way to support the new vision. This kind of system-wide coherence is difficult to achieve, yet it is essential to the success of standards-based science education. In the literature on education policy, the term “coherence” is often used interchangeably with another term—“alignment” [17-19]—although others have suggested that alignment alone is not sufficient to make a system coherent [20]. For example, not only would a coherent curriculum be well aligned across the grades or across subjects, it would also be logically organized, integrated, and har- monious in its internal structure. Here we treat coherence as the broader concept and alignment as only one of its dimensions. A standards-based system of science education should be coherent in a variety of ways [3]. It should be horizontally coherent, in the sense that the curriculum-, instruction-, and assessment-related policies and practices are all aligned with the standards, target the same goals for learning, and work together to support students’ development of the knowledge and understanding of science. The system should be vertically coherent, in the sense that there is (a) a shared understanding at all levels of the system (classroom, school, school district, state, and national) of the goals for science education (and for the curriculum) that underlie the standards and (b) that there is a consensus about the purposes and 245 Implementation: Curriculum, Instruction, Teacher Development, and Assessment

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uses of assessment. The system should also be developmentally coherent, in the sense that there is a shared understanding across grade levels of what ideas are important to teach and of how children’s understanding of these ideas should develop across grade levels. CURRICULUM AND INSTRUCTIONAL MATERIALS Curriculum refers to the knowledge and practices in subject matter areas that teachers teach and that students are supposed to learn. A curriculum gener- ally consists of a scope, or breadth of content, in a given subject area and of a sequence of concepts and activities for learning. While standards typically outline the goals of learning, curricula set forth the more specific means—materials, tasks, discussions, representations—to be used to achieve those goals. Curriculum is collectively defined by teachers, curriculum coordinators (at both the school and the district levels), state agencies, curriculum development organizations, textbook publishers, and (in the case of science) curriculum kit publishers. Although standards do not prescribe specific curricula, they do pro- vide some criteria for designing curricula. And in order to realize the vision of the framework and standards, it is necessary that aligned instructional materials, text- books, and computer or other media-based materials be developed as well. Curricula based on the framework and resulting standards should integrate the three dimensions—scientific and engineering practices, crosscutting concepts, and disciplinary core ideas—and follow the progressions articulated in this report. In order to support the vision of this framework, standards-based cur- ricula in science need to be developed to provide clear guidance that helps teach- ers support students engaging in scientific practices to develop explanations and models [5, 21-24]. In addition, curriculum materials need to be developed as a multiyear sequence that helps students develop increasingly sophisticated ideas across grades K-12 [5, 25, 26]. Curriculum materials (including technology) themselves are developed by a multicomponent system that includes for-profit publishers as well as grant-funded work in the nonprofit sectors of the science education community. The adoption of standards based on this framework by multiple states may help drive publishers to align with it. Such alignment may at first be superficial, but schools, districts, and states can influence publishers if enough of them are asking for serious alignment with the framework and the standards it engenders. A Framework for K-12 Science Education 246

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❚ While standards typically outline the goals of learning, curricula set forth the more specific means—materials, tasks, discussions, ❚ representations—to be used to achieve those goals. Integration of the Three Dimensions The framework’s vision is that students will acquire knowledge and skill in science and engineering through a carefully designed sequence of learning experiences. Each stage in the sequence will develop students’ understanding of particular sci- entific and engineering practices, crosscutting concepts, and disciplinary core ideas while also deepening their insights into the ways in which people from all back- grounds engage in scientific and engineering work to satisfy their curiosity, seek explanations about the world, and improve the built world. A major question confronting each curriculum developer will be which of the practices and crosscutting concepts to feature in lessons or units around a particular disciplinary core idea so that, across the curriculum, they all receive suf- ficient attention [27]. Every science unit or engineering design project must have as one of its goals the development of student understanding of at least one disciplinary core idea. In addition, explicit reference to each crosscutting concept will recur frequently and in varied contexts across disciplines and grades. These concepts need to become part of the language of science that students use when framing questions or devel- oping ways to observe, describe, and explain the world. Similarly, the science and engineering practices delineated in this framework should become familiar as well to students through increasingly sophisticated experiences with them across grades K-8 [28, 29]. Although not every such prac- tice will occur in every context, the curriculum should provide repeated oppor- tunities across various contexts for students to develop their facility with these practices and use them as a support for developing deep understanding of the con- cepts in question and of the nature of science and of engineering. This will require substantial redesign of current and future curricula [30, 31]. Important Aspects of Science Curriculum In addition to alignment with the framework, there are many other aspects for curriculum designers to consider that are not addressed in the framework. This section highlights some that the committee considers important but decided would 247 Implementation: Curriculum, Instruction, Teacher Development, and Assessment

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❚ Through discussion and reflection, students can come to realize that scientific inquiry embodies a set of values. These values include respect for the importance of logical thinking, precision, open-mindedness, objectivity, skepticism, and a requirement for transparent research procedures and ❚ honest reporting of findings. be better treated at the level of curriculum design than at the level of framework and standards. Considerations of the historical, social, cultural, and ethical aspects of science and its applications, as well as of engineering and the technologies it develops, need a place in the natural science curriculum and classroom [32, 33]. The framework is designed to help students develop an understanding not only that the various disciplines of science and engineering are interrelated but also that they are human endeavors. As such, they may raise issues that are not solved by scientific and engineering methods alone. For example, because decisions about the use of a particular technology raise issues of costs, risks, and benefits, the associated societal and environmental impacts require a broader discussion. Perspectives from history and the social and behavioral sciences can enlighten the consideration of such issues; indeed, many of them are addressable either in the context of a social studies course, a science course, or both. In either case, the importance of argument from evidence is critical. It is also important that curricula provide opportunities for discussions that help students recognize that some science- or engineering-related questions, such as ethical decisions or legal codes for what should or should not be done in a given situation, have moral and cultural underpinnings that vary across cultures. Similarly, through discussion and reflection, students can come to real- ize that scientific inquiry embodies a set of values. These values include respect for the importance of logical thinking, precision, open-mindedness, objectivity, skepticism, and a requirement for transparent research procedures and honest reporting of findings. Students need opportunities, with increasing sophistication across the grade levels, to consider not only the applications and implications of science and engi- neering in society but also the nature of the human endeavor of science and engineering themselves. They likewise need to develop an awareness of the careers made possible through scientific and engineering capabilities. A Framework for K-12 Science Education 248

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Discussions involving the history of scientific and engineering ideas, of individual practitioners’ contributions, and of the applications of these endeav- ors are important components of a science and engineering curriculum. For many students, these aspects are the pathways that capture their interest in these fields and build their identities as engaged and capable learners of science and engineering [34, 35]. Teaching science and engineering without reference to their rich variety of human stories, to the puzzles of the past and how they were solved, and to the issues of today that science and engineering must help address would be a major omission. It would isolate science and engineering from their human roots, undervalue their intellectual and creative contributions, and dimin- ish many students’ interest. Finally, when considering how to integrate these aspects of learning into the science and engineering curriculum, curriculum developers, as well as class- room teachers, face many further important questions. For example, is a topic best addressed by invoking its his- torical development as a story of scientific discovery? Is it best addressed in the context of a current problem or issue? Or is it best conveyed through an investigation? What tech- nology or simulation tools can aid student learning? In addition, how are diverse stu- dent backgrounds explicitly engaged as resources in struc- turing learning experiences [36, 37]? And does the curric- ulum offer sufficiently varied examples and opportunities so that all students may identify with scientific knowledge-building practices and participate fully [38, 39]? These choices occur both in the development of cur- riculum materials and, as we discuss in the following section, in decisions made by the teacher in planning instruction. 249 Implementation: Curriculum, Instruction, Teacher Development, and Assessment

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LEARNING AND INSTRUCTION Instruction refers to methods of teaching and the learning activities used to help students master the content and objectives specified by a curriculum. Instruction encompasses the activities of both teachers and students. It can be carried out by a variety of pedagogical techniques, sequences of activities, and ordering of top- ics. Although the framework does not specify a particular pedagogy, integration of the three dimensions will require that students be actively involved in the kinds of learning opportunities that classroom research suggests are important for (1) their understanding of science concepts [5, 40-42], (2) their identities as learners of sci- ence [43, 44], and (3) their appreciation of scientific practices and crosscutting concepts [45, 46]. Several previous NRC committees working on topics related to science edu- cation have independently concluded that there is not sufficient evidence to make prescriptive recommendations about which approaches to science instruction are most effective for achieving particular learning goals [3-5]. However, the recent report Preparing Teachers noted that “there is a clear inferential link between the nature of what is in the standards and the nature of classroom instruction. Instruction throughout K-12 education is likely to develop science proficiency if it provides students with opportunities for a range of scientific activities and scien- tific thinking, including, but not limited to: inquiry and investigation, collection and analysis of evidence, logical reasoning, and communication and application of information” [6]. For example, researchers have studied classroom teaching interventions involving curriculum structures that support epistemic practices (i.e., articulation and evaluation of one’s own knowledge, coordination of theory and evidence) [47]; instructional approaches for English language learners [48]; the effects of project-based curricula and teaching practices [49]; the effects of instruction on core ideas, such as the origin of species [50]; and the influence of multiple repre- sentations of learning [51]. Others have investigated curricular approaches and instructional practices that are matched to national standards [52] or are focused on model-based inquiry [24]. In some work, there is a particular interest in the role of students’ learning of scientific discourses, especially argumentation [33, 53, 54]. Taken together, this work suggests teachers need to develop the capacity to use a variety of approaches in science education. Much of this work has examined pedagogical issues related to the “strands” of scientific proficiency outlined in Taking Science to School [5], and we next turn to those strands. A Framework for K-12 Science Education 250

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What It Means to Learn Science The NRC report Taking Science to School [5] concluded that proficiency in sci- ence is multifaceted and therefore requires a range of experiences to support students’ learning. That report defined the following four strands of proficiency, which it maintained are interwoven in successful science learning: 1. Knowing, using, and interpreting scientific explanations of the natural world. 2. Generating and evaluating scientific evidence and explanations. 3. Understanding the nature and development of scientific knowledge. 4. Participating productively in scientific practices and discourse. Strand 1 includes the acquisition of facts, laws, principles, theories, and models of science; the development of conceptual structures that incorporate them; and the productive use of these structures to understand the natural world. Students grow in their understanding of particular phenomena as well as in their appreciation of the ways in which the construction of models and refinement of arguments contribute to the improvement of explanations [29, 55]. Strand 2 encompasses the knowledge and practices needed to build and refine models and to provide explanations (conceptual, computational, and mechanistic) based on scientific evidence. This strand includes designing empirical investigations and measures for data collection, selecting representations and ways of analyzing the resulting data (or data available from other sources), and using empirical evidence to construct, critique, and defend scientific arguments [45, 56]. Strand 3 focuses on students’ understanding of science as a way of knowing. Scientific knowledge is a particular kind of knowledge with its own sources, justi- fications, ways of dealing with uncertainties [40], and agreed-on levels of certain- ty. When students understand how scientific knowledge is developed over system- atic observations across multiple investigations, how it is justified and critiqued on the basis of evidence, and how it is validated by the larger scientific community, the students then recognize that science entails the search for core explanatory constructs and the connections between them [57]. They come to appreciate that alternative interpretations of scientific evidence can occur, that such interpreta- tions must be carefully scrutinized, and that the plausibility of the supporting evidence must be considered. Thus students ultimately understand, regarding both their own work and the historical record, that predictions or explanations can 251 Implementation: Curriculum, Instruction, Teacher Development, and Assessment

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