Mr. Brian Carey
7 - 12 Supervisor
Phone: 973-535-8000, x7365
The need for scientific literacy in today’s increasingly technological world has impacted fundamental reforms in how science is taught, placing a sincere focus on the inquiry and design process. Presidential appeals for excellence in Science, combined with expressions of concern from science educators, have led to national, state, and local initiatives. In 2014, New Jersey adopted the Next Generation Science Standards with an implementation deadline of September 2016 for the secondary level. Based on the Framework for K-12 Science Education, the Next Generation Science Standards specify that each performance expectation must combine a relevant practice of science or engineering, with a core disciplinary idea and crosscutting concept, appropriate for students of the designated grade level. That guideline is perhaps the most significant way in which the NGSS differs from prior standards documents.
Disciplinary Core Ideas provide a scope and sequence for learning about the most important scientific concepts in one of four domains: the physical sciences; the life sciences; the earth and space sciences; and engineering, technology and applications of science. The Framework identifies seven crosscutting concepts that bridge disciplinary boundaries, uniting core ideas throughout the fields of science and engineering. The Framework uses the term “practices,” rather than “science processes” or “inquiry” skills for a specific reason: We use the term “practices” instead of a term such as “skills” to emphasize that engaging in scientific investigation requires not only skill but also knowledge that is specific to each practice. (NRC Framework, 2012, p. 30) Engaging in the practices of science helps students understand how scientific knowledge develops; such direct involvement gives them an appreciation of the wide range of approaches that are used to investigate, model, and explain the world. Engaging in the practices of engineering likewise helps students understand the work of engineers, as well as the links between engineering and science. The actual doing of science or engineering can also pique students’ curiosity, capture their interest, and motivate their continued study; the insights thus gained help them recognize that the work of scientists and engineers is a creative endeavor—one that has deeply affected the world they live in. Students may then recognize that science and engineering can contribute to meeting many of the major challenges that confront society today, such as generating sufficient energy, preventing and treating disease, maintaining supplies of fresh water and food, and addressing climate change.
The study of science has many components which shape how instruction is provided. Students must know and be able to work with key scientific concepts. They must also be able to apply their knowledge to novel scenarios which ask students to address certain real-world issues by hypothesizing possible solutions, researching and collecting data, evaluating this data and drawing conclusions. Students must now be able to express their knowledge in both written and oral forms. Finally, students must be capable of finding information using various technological resources.The State of New Jersey Department of Education has implemented one required end-of-course assessment, called the New Jersey Biology Competency Test (NJBCT), which assesses student knowledge and understanding in the biological and environmental sciences. Students will be best prepared for the New Jersey Biology Competency Test by selecting an appropriate first-year Biology class in Grade 9. In Grade 10, students will then take an appropriate level of Chemistry. Students in Grade 11 then have the option of taking either Environmental Science or Physics and an elective in Grade 12, if so desired. Additionally, Advanced Placement classes as well as other science electives can be taken starting in Grade 10. This sequence will prepare students in all of the core disciplines, address all of the Next Generation Science Standards and provide an impressive record of lab sciences for college admissions officers to consider, while, at the same time, affording students the flexibility to choose a course of study that meets their own interests and fits with their career plans.