Few K-12 science teachers have the experience needed to teach the science and engineering practices described in the Next Generation Science Standards,from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine.
And that’s especially true among elementary teachers and those working in schools serving low-income students, the report says. The study—a follow-up to the 2001 report that laid the groundwork for the standards—reviews research on what K-12 science teachers know, what they need to know, and the ways to strengthen teacher learning.
The report says teachers “will need newknowledge of the ideas and practices in the disciplines of science, an understanding of instructional strategies that are consistent with the NGSS vision, and the skill to implement those strategies in their classrooms,” in order to meet the new standards, which more than a third of states have adopted so far. Now, however, science teachers lack time and opportunities to collaborate with each other, which is an important source of teacher learning, they write.
The authors recommend that schools and districts improve learning opportunities for science teachers by:
•Taking stock of current professional-development offerings for teachers.
•Creating a coherent, multiyear plan for science-teacher learning that takes individual and context-specific needs into account.
•Establishing dedicated professional-development time for science teachers during the salaried work week. District leaders should also structure time for meeting with other teachers and observing classrooms.
A version of this article appeared in the January 27, 2016 edition of Education Week as Teacher Training Needed For Science Standards