NGSS Issues Seal of Approval for Best Science Units
- By Dian Schaffhauser
The organization behind the new science standards has launched a digital badge that can be earned for science units that meet its "highest" criteria. The Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) "design badge" is an award issued by Achieve to those lessons that have "earned the highest rating" on its science rubric. Achieve oversees NGSS, which developed the Educators Evaluating the Quality of Instructional Products (EQuIP) rubric. So far, a single resource has earned the recognition.
The new badge shows a logo, the name of the unit being recognized, the date the badge was awarded and a "Verify" button. When a user clicks on the digital badge to verify its authenticity, the badge gives more information describing features of the unit in question. That functionality is handled by Badgr, which produces a free and open source digital badging system. All of the awards issued will also appear on an NGSS website.
According to an NGSS FAQ, the idea is to "provide an easy way for consumers to be assured that a unit — whether it was found online for free or purchased from a big publisher — is designed for the NGSS." Otherwise, the instructional materials may simply "claim" to be aligned, but with "little to no evidence." The seal of approval can be placed on the developer's website or on the resources themselves.
There are two tracks for earning the badge. For free and publicly available units, the NGSS Science Peer Review Panel runs an assessment against the rubric. For proprietary curriculum and materials in development, Achieve does the review. The highest rating is given to materials that earn top scores in three areas: 3D design, instructional supports and monitoring of student progress.
The only unit to earn the award so far is a high school resource developed by the CREATE for STEM Institute at Michigan State University and the Concord Consortium. The unit, "Why do some clothes stick together when they come out of the dryer?" was designed to engage students in activities to help them understand electric interactions through electrostatic phenomena.
Dian Schaffhauser is a former senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal, Campus Technology and Spaces4Learning.