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Assessments, understood as tools for tracking what and how well students have learned, play a critical role in the classroom. Developing Assessments for the Next Generation Science Standards develops an approach to science assessment to meet the vision of science education for the future as it has been elaborated in A Framework for K-12 Science Education (Framework) and Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). These documents are brand new and the changes they call for are barely under way, but the new assessments will be needed as soon as states and districts begin the process of implementing the NGSS and changing their approach to science education.

The new Framework and the NGSS are designed to guide educators in significantly altering the way K-12 science is taught. The Framework is aimed at making science education more closely resemble the way scientists actually work and think, and making instruction reflect research on learning that demonstrates the importance of building coherent understandings over time. It structures science education around three dimensions - the practices through which scientists and engineers do their work, the key crosscutting concepts that cut across disciplines, and the core ideas of the disciplines - and argues that they should be interwoven in every aspect of science education, building in sophistication as students progress through grades K-12.

Developing Assessments for the Next Generation Science Standards recommends strategies for developing assessments that yield valid measures of student proficiency in science as described in the new Framework. This report reviews recent and current work in science assessment to determine which aspects of the Framework's vision can be assessed with available techniques and what additional research and development will be needed to support an assessment system that fully meets that vision. The report offers a systems approach to science assessment, in which a range of assessment strategies are designed to answer different kinds of questions with appropriate degrees of specificity and provide results that complement one another.

Developing Assessments for the Next Generation Science Standards makes the case that a science assessment system that meets the Framework's vision should consist of assessments designed to support classroom instruction, assessments designed to monitor science learning on a broader scale, and indicators designed to track opportunity to learn. New standards for science education make clear that new modes of assessment designed to measure the integrated learning they promote are essential. The recommendations of this report will be key to making sure that the dramatic changes in curriculum and instruction signaled by Framework and the NGSS reduce inequities in science education and raise the level of science education for all students.

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National Academies Press
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Published on
May 29, 2014
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Education / Elementary
Education / Teaching Methods & Materials / Science & Technology
Education / Testing & Measurement
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Science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) are cultural achievements that reflect our humanity, power our economy, and constitute fundamental aspects of our lives as citizens, consumers, parents, and members of the workforce. Providing all students with access to quality education in the STEM disciplines is important to our nation's competitiveness. However, it is challenging to identify the most successful schools and approaches in the STEM disciplines because success is defined in many ways and can occur in many different types of schools and settings. In addition, it is difficult to determine whether the success of a school's students is caused by actions the school takes or simply related to the population of students in the school.

Successful K-12 STEM Education defines a framework for understanding "success" in K-12 STEM education. The book focuses its analysis on the science and mathematics parts of STEM and outlines criteria for identifying effective STEM schools and programs. Because a school's success should be defined by and measured relative to its goals, the book identifies three important goals that share certain elements, including learning STEM content and practices, developing positive dispositions toward STEM, and preparing students to be lifelong learners. A successful STEM program would increase the number of students who ultimately pursue advanced degrees and careers in STEM fields, enhance the STEM-capable workforce, and boost STEM literacy for all students. It is also critical to broaden the participation of women and minorities in STEM fields.

Successful K-12 STEM Education examines the vast landscape of K-12 STEM education by considering different school models, highlighting research on effective STEM education practices, and identifying some conditions that promote and limit school- and student-level success in STEM. The book also looks at where further work is needed to develop appropriate data sources. The book will serve as a guide to policy makers; decision makers at the school and district levels; local, state, and federal government agencies; curriculum developers; educators; and parent and education advocacy groups.

How do other countries create “smarter” kids? What is it like to be a child in the world’s new education superpowers? The Smartest Kids in the World “gets well beneath the glossy surfaces of these foreign cultures and manages to make our own culture look newly strange....The question is whether the startling perspective provided by this masterly book can also generate the will to make changes” (The New York Times Book Review).

In a handful of nations, virtually all children are learning to make complex arguments and solve problems they’ve never seen before. They are learning to think, in other words, and to thrive in the modern economy. Inspired to find answers for our own children, author and Time magazine journalist Amanda Ripley follows three Americans embed­ded in these countries for one year. Kim, fifteen, raises $10,000 so she can move from Oklahoma to Finland; Eric, eighteen, trades his high-achieving Minnesota suburb for a booming city in South Korea; and Tom, seventeen, leaves a historic Pennsylvania village for Poland.

Through these young informants, Ripley meets battle-scarred reformers, sleep-deprived zombie students, and a teacher who earns $4 million a year. Their stories, along with groundbreaking research into learning in other cultures, reveal a pattern of startling transformation: none of these countries had many “smart” kids a few decades ago. Things had changed. Teaching had become more rigorous; parents had focused on things that mattered; and children had bought into the promise of education.
Americans have long recognized that investments in public education contribute to the common good, enhancing national prosperity and supporting stable families, neighborhoods, and communities. Education is even more critical today, in the face of economic, environmental, and social challenges. Today's children can meet future challenges if their schooling and informal learning activities prepare them for adult roles as citizens, employees, managers, parents, volunteers, and entrepreneurs. To achieve their full potential as adults, young people need to develop a range of skills and knowledge that facilitate mastery and application of English, mathematics, and other school subjects. At the same time, business and political leaders are increasingly asking schools to develop skills such as problem solving, critical thinking, communication, collaboration, and self-management - often referred to as "21st century skills."

Education for Life and Work: Developing Transferable Knowledge and Skills in the 21st Century describes this important set of key skills that increase deeper learning, college and career readiness, student-centered learning, and higher order thinking. These labels include both cognitive and non-cognitive skills- such as critical thinking, problem solving, collaboration, effective communication, motivation, persistence, and learning to learn. 21st century skills also include creativity, innovation, and ethics that are important to later success and may be developed in formal or informal learning environments.

This report also describes how these skills relate to each other and to more traditional academic skills and content in the key disciplines of reading, mathematics, and science. Education for Life and Work: Developing Transferable Knowledge and Skills in the 21st Century summarizes the findings of the research that investigates the importance of such skills to success in education, work, and other areas of adult responsibility and that demonstrates the importance of developing these skills in K-16 education. In this report, features related to learning these skills are identified, which include teacher professional development, curriculum, assessment, after-school and out-of-school programs, and informal learning centers such as exhibits and museums.

Following a 2011 report by the National Research Council (NRC) on successful K-12 education in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM), Congress asked the National Science Foundation to identify methods for tracking progress toward the report's recommendations. In response, the NRC convened the Committee on an Evaluation Framework for Successful K-12 STEM Education to take on this assignment. The committee developed 14 indicators linked to the 2011 report's recommendations. By providing a focused set of key indicators related to students' access to quality learning, educator's capacity, and policy and funding initiatives in STEM, the committee addresses the need for research and data that can be used to monitor progress in K-12 STEM education and make informed decisions about improving it.

The recommended indicators provide a framework for Congress and relevant deferral agencies to create and implement a national-level monitoring and reporting system that: assesses progress toward key improvements recommended by a previous National Research Council (2011) committee; measures student knowledge, interest, and participation in the STEM disciplines and STEM-related activities; tracks financial, human capital, and material investments in K-12 STEM education at the federal, state, and local levels; provides information about the capabilities of the STEM education workforce, including teachers and principals; and facilitates strategic planning for federal investments in STEM education and workforce development when used with labor force projections. All 14 indicators explained in this report are intended to form the core of this system. Monitoring Progress Toward Successful K-12 STEM Education: A Nation Advancing? summarizes the 14 indicators and tracks progress towards the initial report's recommendations.
Science, engineering, and technology permeate nearly every facet of modern life and hold the key to solving many of humanity's most pressing current and future challenges. The United States' position in the global economy is declining, in part because U.S. workers lack fundamental knowledge in these fields. To address the critical issues of U.S. competitiveness and to better prepare the workforce, A Framework for K-12 Science Education proposes a new approach to K-12 science education that will capture students' interest and provide them with the necessary foundational knowledge in the field.

A Framework for K-12 Science Education outlines a broad set of expectations for students in science and engineering in grades K-12. These expectations will inform the development of new standards for K-12 science education and, subsequently, revisions to curriculum, instruction, assessment, and professional development for educators. This book identifies three dimensions that convey the core ideas and practices around which science and engineering education in these grades should be built. These three dimensions are: crosscutting concepts that unify the study of science through their common application across science and engineering; scientific and engineering practices; and disciplinary core ideas in the physical sciences, life sciences, and earth and space sciences and for engineering, technology, and the applications of science. The overarching goal is for all high school graduates to have sufficient knowledge of science and engineering to engage in public discussions on science-related issues, be careful consumers of scientific and technical information, and enter the careers of their choice.

A Framework for K-12 Science Education is the first step in a process that can inform state-level decisions and achieve a research-grounded basis for improving science instruction and learning across the country. The book will guide standards developers, teachers, curriculum designers, assessment developers, state and district science administrators, and educators who teach science in informal environments.
Americans agree that our students urgently need better science education. But what should they be expected to know and be able to do? Can the same expectations be applied across our diverse society?

These and other fundamental issues are addressed in National Science Education Standards--a landmark development effort that reflects the contributions of thousands of teachers, scientists, science educators, and other experts across the country.

The National Science Education Standards offer a coherent vision of what it means to be scientifically literate, describing what all students regardless of background or circumstance should understand and be able to do at different grade levels in various science categories.

The standards address:

The exemplary practice of science teaching that provides students with experiences that enable them to achieve scientific literacy. Criteria for assessing and analyzing students' attainments in science and the learning opportunities that school science programs afford. The nature and design of the school and district science program. The support and resources needed for students to learn science.

These standards reflect the principles that learning science is an inquiry-based process, that science in schools should reflect the intellectual traditions of contemporary science, and that all Americans have a role in improving science education.

This document will be invaluable to education policymakers, school system administrators, teacher educators, individual teachers, and concerned parents.

Scenes of starvation have drawn the world's attention to Africa's agricultural and environmental crisis. Some observers question whether this continent can ever hope to feed its growing population. Yet there is an overlooked food resource in sub-Saharan Africa that has vast potential: native food plants.
When experts were asked to nominate African food plants for inclusion in a new book, a list of 30 species grew quickly to hundreds. All in all, Africa has more than 2,000 native grains and fruits--"lost" species due for rediscovery and exploitation.
This volume focuses on native cereals, including
African rice, reserved until recently as a luxury food for religious rituals. Finger millet, neglected internationally although it is a staple for millions. Fonio (acha), probably the oldest African cereal and sometimes called "hungry rice." Pearl millet, a widely used grain that still holds great untapped potential. Sorghum, with prospects for making the twenty-first century the "century of sorghum." Tef, in many ways ideal but only now enjoying budding commercial production. Other cultivated and wild grains.

This readable and engaging book dispels myths, often based on Western bias, about the nutritional value, flavor, and yield of these African grains.
Designed as a tool for economic development, the volume is organized with increasing levels of detail to meet the needs of both lay and professional readers. The authors present the available information on where and how each grain is grown, harvested, and processed, and they list its benefits and limitations as a food source.
The authors describe "next steps" for increasing the use of each grain, outline research needs, and address issues in building commercial production.
Sidebars cover such interesting points as the potential use of gene mapping and other "high-tech" agricultural techniques on these grains.
This fact-filled volume will be of great interest to agricultural experts, entrepreneurs, researchers, and individuals concerned about restoring food production, environmental health, and economic opportunity in sub-Saharan Africa.
Selection, Newbridge Garden Book Club

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