The NEW Michigan Science Standards (a.k.a. NGSS)
​​​​​​​​​​Michigan Science Standards (a.k.a. NGSS)


Michigan becomes an NGSS state! The new Michigan Science Standards (=NGSS) present us with enormous opportunity, but also a huge challenge because they prescribe a revolutionary transfo​​rmation in science education. This page provides basic advice on how to begin our transition to new standards. The top section provides a few short video addressing the vision and some early stage challenges. Below are some suggestions on how to proceed. 

Getting to know the NRC Framework and MSS (NGSS): Part 1​, (on the NRC Framework), Part 2​​, (group reading protocol) Part 3​ (needs updating because of new NGSS website) 

 I. The best way to understand and access the Michigan Science Standards is as follows:

  1. ​​Use the NRC Framework (free PDF) as your primary source. It best provides the vision of the Michigan Science Standards and establishes the structure, which is based on three strands of science proficiency. 
    • ​​Science and Engineering Practices (8 in all)
    • Cross Cutting Concepts (7 in all)
    • Disciplinary Core Ideas (4 broad disciplines: physical science, life science, earth and space science and ​engineering, technology and application of science)
  2. ​​​Study the NRC Framework​ and vision deeply. The vision establishes us profoundly different aims for science education. Rather than the traditional emphasis on content mastery the vision will have us developing student PROFICIENCY in science. Content will be applied as student design ways to generate, analyze and build arguments, explanations and solution with evidence. Here are some recommended strategies:
    • ​​Form a study group and work through the NRC Framework, especially Part II that explains the three dimensions.
    • Utilize the Bozeman Science Website which casts elements of the NRC Framework with interesting videos.  ​​
  3. Access the Michigan Science Standards using the ​ Next Generation of Science Standards website. ( This is a dynamic website that provides the best way to access and understand the Michigan Science Standards.
  4. Assessing performance expectations will be a new complicated challenge for teachers, districts and the state. The best starting place to understand how to adapt assessment systems and resources are these:
II. Avoid some common mistaken assumption​s. Examples:
  • The Michigan Science Standards are different than the NGSS. Not so, they are the same. Michigan has added some suggested Michigan centered contexts for some topics, mainly in elementary school, but this is not to be assessed.
  • The Performance Expectations posted on the Michigan Department of Education website provide a useful way to access the Michigan Science Standards. Not so. Those documents where created for board approval​, not for instructional planning. The Next Generation Science Standards website associates the Performance Expectations with colored Foundation Boxes that provided the elements from the NRC Framework from which the Performance Expectations were derived. There are other very useful things there such as mouse over interactivity that helps with interpretation.
  • The Performance Expectations (PE) can be handled like our retiring GLCE's and HSCE's. Not so. The NGSS PE’s should be thought of as culminating, high level 3 dimensional performance descriptors that reflect competencies developed over a significant endeavor to understand a science topic through a diverse set of collaborative investigations and effective meaning making experiences.
  • The titles of the elements of the NGSS speak for themselves. Not really. There is much more to the Science and Engineering Practices, Disciplinary Core Ideas and Cross Cutting Concepts that what their brief titles may lead you to presume. It is only through the Framework document that these can be correctly understood. ​
  • Now is the time to fully replace the GLCE's and HSCE's with the Michigan Science Standards (NGSS). Not fully. Now IS the time to infuse the Science and Engineering Practices and Cross Cutting Concepts into instruction, as learning objectives and in close association with content. However, Michigan will be using a 5 year transition plan at the end of which the new Michigan Science Standards will be the target of statewide assessments. 

III. Common Core Standards for ELA
Reading and writing in science education is critical for two reasons: 1) these are proficiencies inherent in the scientific enterprise and 2) they are powerful approaches for conceptual mastery of science concepts, especially when used in conjunction with student investigations. The Common Core Standards for English Language Arts is a valuable asset for science education. It describes task and competencies that support science education.​