SPARTA, NJ-The Sparta school district is not taking the summer off.  When the final bell rang at the end of June the administrators and staff began working to prepare for September.  Those preparations include getting ready for The Next Generation Science Standards.

The Common Core State Standards have been limited to the two subjects; Math and English Language Arts.  New Jersey was one of twenty six states were Lead State Partners involved in creating the Next Generation Science Standards. There have been letters of support from both the State Leadership Team and Standards Adoption Committee at the State level.  Sparta is taking steps to be prepared for the transition. 

The shift will be to making science more of a practice.  Students will be expected demonstrate scientific and engineering concepts through an understanding of the scientific process; they will be asked to develop, test and evaluate scientific evidence. Sparta Science Supervisor Marisa Wilson explains the district has identified eight areas that will be highlighted with the new program to be relevant to the scientific and engineering professions:

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  1. Asking questions and defining problems
  2. Developing and using models
  3. Planning and carrying out investigations
  4. Analyzing and interpreting data
  5. Using mathematics and computational thinking
  6. Constructing explanations and designing solutions
  7. Engaging in argument from evidence
  8. Obtaining, evaluating and communicating information

Further Wilson discusses the steps that are being taken by the district to prepare for the anticipated transition from the previous New Jersey Core Curriculum Content Standards to the Next Generation Science Standards. 

Wilson says, “We are delighted to announce our partnership with Princeton University’s Teacher Prep program, Raritan Valley Community College’s Science Education Institute, and Rider University’s Science Education and Literacy Center.  Rider SELECT has offered a fully funded opportunity for teams of administrators and science educators to begin to evaluate how the adoption of the NGSS will affect our current science program.”

Participating in this Rider SELECT program provides the district with a full complement of tools to enable the district to provide a smooth transition for the staff and students.  This includes:

  • Conduct a district Gap analysis of our current science program,
  • Develop a framework for Sparta’s transition to Next Generation Science Standards,
  • Develop a strategic plan for leveraging strengths and weaknesses and to mitigate identified gaps,
  • Establish concrete plans for professional development,
  • Use protocols and rubrics for analyzing curricular materials,
  • Experience sample lessons aligned with NGSS practices and engineering disciplinary core ideas.

“We are both honored and excited to be part of this program. It is our hope that this partnership will ensure a smooth and successful transition for both our staff and students. Our collaborative partnership begins in late July. The science department wishes everyone a relaxing and safe summer,” said Wilson.

The Next Generation Science standards were written with funding primarily from the Carnegie Foundation in New York.  There was additional support from the GE Foundation, The Noyce Foundation, The Cisco Foundation and DuPont. No federal money was spent on this initiative.