New Middle School Science Standards

Learning for a Deeper Understanding

California’s Middle School students are learning Science in a new way. The California Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) encourage students to ask questions, think outside the box, and learn through discovery.

The State Board of Education adopted NGSS in 2013 to give all students (K-12) a deeper understanding of scientific concepts in a hands-on way.

To give you a sense of how the new standards work, here’s a look into the NGSS 3D Learning Concepts referenced in the video above:

  • Disciplinary Core Ideas explain why certain phenomena occur.
  • Science and Engineering Practices give students tools to explore and explain phenomena by gathering and analyzing data to find patterns.
  • Crosscutting Concepts help students make sense of scientific phenomena and learn to use the same core ideas and practices in other disciplines.


The Test for Future Scientists

In 2016, the State Board approved draft framework for a new test to measure the range and depth of CA NGSS. This spring, students in California will take the pilot version of the new test, known as the California Science Test (CAST).

This pilot test will:

  • Allow students to try new item types and to test system functionality
  • Be administered to students in grades 5, 8, and High School
  • Be computer-based
  • Be comprised of items that incorporate 2 of the 3D learning concepts

CAST Timeline

  • 2017 Pilot Test (no student scores released)
  • 2018 Field Test (no student scores released)
  • 2019 Operational Test

Manzanita 8th Graders will take the CAST Pilot Test on Tuesday, May 2. Students are welcome to bring any questions to Ms. Chase or Colleen.


More Information

To learn more, visit the California Department of Education’s pages on the NGSS for California Public Schools, K-12 and the California Science Test.

Also – check out the Training Test to view the new item types.


California Department of Education, California Science Test Pilot and the Next Generation Science Standards video (source material + featured image)


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