High School Science and California’s New Science Standards

Beginning in school year 2018-2019, the Santa Barbara Unified School District will begin implementation of California’s Next Generation Science Standards (CA NGSS) in our high school science courses. In preparation for this implementation, science teachers have engaged in over 2 years of professional learning, collaboration, and decision-making to create the following recommendation for the new CA NGSS high school science courses.

SBUnified Statement of Recommendation – High School Science

In order for students to become college and career ready, scientifically literate, and informed citizens, Santa Barbara Unified School District recommends taking three years of high school science in the following order to maintain coherence in building practices and concepts in alignment with the California Next Generation Science Standards (CA NGSS) and the State Science Framework California High School Three Course Model for Science:

  • Physics in the Universe or Conceptual Physics in the Universe (9th grade)
  • Chemistry in the Earth System or Honors Chemistry in the Earth System (10th grade)
  • Biology: The Living Earth (11th grade)

The Santa Barbara Unified School District recommendation is in line with the State and Next Generation Science Standards recommendation of “All Standards, All Students,” in which all 9-12 grade science standards will be taught over the course of the three year science sequence (CA NGSS High School Three Course Model: Earth and Space Science embedded into Physics, Chemistry, and Biology).

This recommendation would exceed the:

  • two-year minimum State and District graduation requirement for science, including biological and physical sciences.
  • two-year UC/CSU a-g minimum eligibility requirement for students to complete two years of a laboratory science, including one life science and one physical science.

California’s New Science Standards

The California Next Generation Science Standards (CA NGSS), adopted in 2013, enable our teachers to offer all students interactive science instruction that promotes analysis and interpretation of data, critical thinking, problem solving, and connections across science disciplines-with a high set of expectations for achievement in grades 9-12. The conceptual shifts from our previous science standards to the vision presented by the the California Science Framework (2016) and A Framework for K-12 Science Education (2011) are summarized below.

Conceptual Shifts in the NGSS

Interconnected Nature of Science and the Real World

The CA NGSS follow a vision for education in the sciences and engineering in which students, over multiple years of school, actively engage in scientific and engineering practices and apply cross-cutting concepts to deepen their understanding of the core ideas in these fields. Instruction that is aligned to the CA NGSS is “3-Dimensional” in that it interweaves three critical components of science instruction: Disciplinary Core Ideas (DCIs), Science and Engineering Practices (SEPs), and Cross-cutting Concepts (CCCs). With implementation of the CA NGSS, science in the classroom will shift toward mirroring how science is done in the real world.

Focus and Coherence

A progression of knowledge from K through 12 aims for overall scientific literacy with instruction focused on a smaller set of ideas at each grade level. Each year builds on the knowledge gained the year before. This progression gives students the opportunity to learn more complex material, leading to a comprehensive understanding of science by the end of high school.

Earth and Space Science Standards Every Year

In SBUSD and throughout most of the state of California, Earth and Space Sciences are now integrated into each year of science education, K-12. Embedding the Earth and Space Sciences (ESS) into our high school science courses allows for the rigorous application of physics, chemistry, and biology concepts to local and global issues involving geology, geochemistry, space technology, astronomy, climate change, and biodiversity. Such lessons will help students develop key problem-solving skills and techniques that prepare them for success in a wide range of college majors or careers, including those in S.T.E.M. fields.

Science and Engineering

Engineering and technology are integrated into the structure of science education. The core ideas of engineering and technology are given the same status as those in the primary science disciplines.

College, Career, and Citizenship Readiness

As our understanding of the complex world in which live grows over time, so must our ability to make sense of the science in our everyday lives. Science is also at the heart of our country’s ability to innovate, lead, and create the jobs of the future. All students, regardless of their future education and career path, must have a robust K-12 science education to be prepared for college, careers, and citizenship.

Next Generation Science Standards Resource for Parents