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The New Hampshire State Board of Education Adopts New Academic Standards for Science

The New Hampshire State Board of Education (SBE) took steps last week to ensure the state advances and promotes 21st century science standards for all students in the state. The adoption of NH’s College- and Career-Ready Science Standards, or Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), follows the lead of over 90 percent of the state’s local communities that are already implementing NGSS. The standards of choice have been the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) whereas only a few NH districts are still using the 2006 State Science Framework. In many cases, NH districts have been doing this work for 3 or more years and have aligned their science curricula around them.

Tom Raffio, Chairman of the State Board of Education, stated, “The state board is pleased to have taken this important step in updating our science standards to take advantage of pedagogical and scientific advances over the past 10 years. New Hampshire’s new science standards will help our students develop the fundamental academic knowledge and the 21st century skills that will be so important in their daily lives and for any career they pursue. And, thank you to our wonderful science teachers for the important leadership role they played in putting the Next Generation Science Standards in place.”

The new standards will provide a constant science education through all grades. The NGSS describe -- at each grade from kindergarten through fifth grade, at middle school and at high school -- what each student should know and be able to do in the four domains of science: physical science; life science; earth and space science; and engineering, technology and science application.

“Ensuring that our young people develop the skills and innovative thinking needed for good jobs in the 21st century is critical to New Hampshire’s future success, and continuing to modernize education in the STEM fields of science, technology, engineering and math is an important part of those efforts,” Governor Hassan said. "The adoption of these new science standards builds on our efforts to modernize STEM education and will help prepare our young people for success in the innovation economy."

NGSS have been used and recommended locally across the state as the best set of standards to use because, but not limited to, the following attributes:

  • NGSS incorporates a 3-dimensional learning strategy which involves strong and high leverage content, stronger science practice skills that further the inquiry and problem solving skills needed by students, and cross-cutting concepts which permeate all science disciplines as well as other content areas.
  • Educators across science, special education, and career technology centers acknowledge the practice skills and cross-cutting themes as strong skill sets that should be developed K-12. They comment about how the strong inclusion of these practices invites greater access for all students, including those with challenges of low reading levels, English as a second language, and students with learning disabilities.
  • Elementary teachers especially appreciate the way in which the standards are aligned with NH’s reading, writing and mathematics standards which assist integration. They also realize they will need help with the science understanding which implicates pre-service education, professional development opportunities and the need to assist elementary school programs with impactful science lessons that provide experiential learning challenges that enhance literacy as well as numeracy.

For the last three months, seven public forums focus on gathering input about the NGSS were conducted throughout the state for access by teachers, parents, school board members and the general public. A Science Learning Inventory Survey was also designed to receive input from teachers and administrators who might not be able to attend the public forums. In total almost 200 participants attended the forums and more than 600 educators responded to the NH Science Learning Inventory. Many science teachers in NH have been following the work of NGSS from the beginning, participated in the review of those documents, and were pleased with the final outcome. The NH Science Teachers Association approved the NGSS in 2013 which was communicated to their membership.

The adoption of new science standards opens the door for the state to begin to develop a new science assessment. Currently, students are assessed in science statewide in 4th, 8th and 11th grades. The state’s current science assessment, NECAP Science, will be implemented for the last time in the spring of 2017. The NHDOE will work with NH educators over the next year to determine what criteria are important to include in the development of a new assessment.

For more information about the NH’s College- and Career-Ready Science Standards, please contact Nate Greene, Science Education Consultant, at or (603) 271-5252.

New Hampshire Department of Education
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