Report Finds that America's Leading Science Curriculum Fails Students

The Next Generation Science Standards are Sub-Standard at Best

National Association of Scholars

New York, NY, April 8th, 2021—America’s most popular science curriculum, the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), fails students. A new report, Climbing Down: How the Next Generation Science Standards Diminish Scientific Literacy, details how the popular curriculum omits basic tenets of science, including the scientific method.

“The NGSS are an underwhelming set of standards that condemn American students to a mis-understanding of various science concepts, fields, and methodology. Instead of raising the bar to instruct students to be ready for colleges and careers, the NGSS lower it in the name of equity,” said report author David Randall. “How are America’s students supposed to compete in a global marketplace when their own schools anticipate their failure by watering down curriculums to exclude a wealth of scientific knowledge?”

The NGSS’s most extraordinary omission is the scientific method itself. The absence of an explicit articulation of the scientific method means that students will never learn the theoretical foundations for proper research techniques that seek to produce verifiable and reproducible evidence. Students cannot learn scientific research’s rational processes without learning the scientific method.

Randall added: “The NGSS further damage science instruction by replacing what students must learn with how students must learn. Worse, the NGSS require one teacher to somehow teach and integrate the physical sciences, life sciences, engineering, and earth and space sciences within a single class.”

Climbing Down extensively documents the failures of the NGSS, but also provides eleven steps parents, teachers, and school boards should take to correct the deficiencies in this curriculum. They include using the Fordham Institute’s A-graded science standards as a template; allowing, encouraging, or requiring students to begin algebra in 8th grade rather than 9th; replacing Common Core State Standards (CCSS) mathematics with higher-level standards, such as the excellent and highly rated pre-CCSS California mathematics standards; and ensuring that science standards steer students toward the full range of scientific careers, especially those that serve the American national interest.

America’s students deserve better than the NGSS. Our nation’s education systems should encourage and adopt the best curriculums that challenge and equip students with the skills and knowledge to bring about innovation, but also to sustain rational and objective scientific discovery.

Climbing Down was authored by Jennifer Helms, James Nations, and David Randall.

NAS is a network of scholars and citizens united by a commitment to academic freedom, disinterested scholarship, and excellence in American higher education. Membership in NAS is open to all who share a commitment to these broad principles. NAS publishes a journal and has state and regional affiliates. Visit NAS at www.nas.org.

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If you would like more information about this issue, please contact Chance Layton at [email protected].

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