Developing District Plans for NGSS Implementation: Preventing Detours and Finding Express Lanes on the Journey to Implement the New Science Standards

by Burr Tyler; Ted Britton

Feb 1, 2018

Many California districts are ramping up their efforts to enhance science teaching, in part because of the new California Science Test (CAST) coming online. The CAST is aligned with the revised California Science Framework, which mirrors the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). The NGSS calls for substantial changes in science teaching and learning. Given this context, how are districts escalating their attention to NGSS implementation?

The K-8 Early Implementers Initiative has found that careful planning is critical. With thin planning, unexpected detours or dead ends are likely. However, with solid planning, districts are more likely to achieve their implementation goals and may discover some express lanes for their implementation journey!

In this evaluation report, we document lessons learned by the Early Implementer districts through their development and use of master district plans for NGSS implementation. Intended for district-level administrators and state education policymakers, this report is the fourth in a series of evaluation releases. The report is based primarily on inspection of districts' thorough NGSS implementation plans and extensive interviews with district project directors and the regional directors from WestEd's K-12 Alliance. The report's main topics are:

- Benefits of developing an NGSS implementation plan

- Processes used to develop plan components, including overcoming challenges

- Recommendations for developing plans

- Sample components of districts' NGSS implementation plans

We hope that readers will not be put off by the report's seemingly large size. While the main narrative is relatively brief, the report also provides over 40 pages of practical samples in the appendix to give readers a clear idea of what goes into a thorough NGSS implementation plan. As readers will have different interests and needs, we included a wide variety of examples.