Currently, many states are adopting the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) or are revising their own state standards in ways that reflect the NGSS. For students and schools, the implementation of any science standards rests with teachers. For those teachers, an evolving understanding about how best to teach science represents a significant transition in the way science is currently taught in most classrooms and it will require most science teachers to change how they teach.
That change will require learning opportunities for teachers that reinforce and expand their knowledge of the major ideas and concepts in science, their familiarity with a range of instructional strategies, and the skills to implement those strategies in the classroom. Providing these kinds of learning opportunities in turn will require profound changes to current approaches to supporting teachers' learning across their careers, from their initial training to continuing professional development.
A teacher's capability to improve students' scientific understanding is heavily influenced by the school and district in which they work, the community in which the school is located, and the larger professional communities to which they belong. Science Teachers' Learning provides guidance for schools and districts on how best to support teachers' learning and how to implement successful programs for professional development. This report makes actionable recommendations for science teachers' learning that take a broad view of what is known about science education, how and when teachers learn, and education policies that directly and indirectly shape what teachers are able to learn and teach.
The challenge of developing the expertise a teacher needs to implement the NGSS presents an opportunity to rethink professional learning for science teachers. Science Teachers' Learning will be a valuable resource for classrooms, departments, schools, districts, and professional organizations as they move to new ways to teach science.
National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. (2015). Science Teachers Learning: Enhancing Opportunities, Creating Supportive Contexts. Committee on Strengthening Science Education through a Teacher Learning Continuum. Board on Science Education and Teacher Advisory Council, Division of Behavioral and Social Science and Education. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press.