Dr. Morris Bramlett, dean of the UAM School of Mathematical and Natural Sciences, addresses a recent meeting of the Arkansas STEM Coalition held on the UAM campus to discuss the Next Generation science pilot project. Bramlett is a member of the Arkansas STEM Coalition board of directors.


The University of Arkansas at Monticello School of Education STEM Center is one of three sites in Arkansas selected to participate in a science pilot project called Next Generation Science Exemplar Study Learning (NGSX).

The project is part of a national initiative to improve science education at the K-12 level, said Pam Beard, director of UAM’s STEM Center. “The goal of UAM’s NGSX study group is to create a web-based learning environment rich in video cases, tools and resources,” Beard explained.

The project is designed to introduce study group colleagues to the new vision of science called for in the National ResearchCouncil (NRC) Framework for K-12 Science Education and the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). The new standards have been developed to be rich in content and practice, arranged in a coherent manner across disciplines and grades to provide all students an internationally benchmarked science education.

The National Research Council, which is part of the National Academy of Sciences, managed the first of two steps in the creation of the Next Generation Science Standards by developing the Framework for K-12 Science Education, which was released in July 2011.

According to Beard, the Framework provides a sound, evidence-based foundation for standards by drawing on current scientific research – including research on the ways students learn science effectively – and identifies the science all K–12 students should know.

To undertake this effort, the NRC convened a committee of 18 individuals who are nationally and internationally known in their respective fields. The committee included practicing scientists, including two Nobel laureates, cognitive scientists, science education researchers, and science education standards and policy experts. In addition, the NRC used four design teams to develop the Framework. These four design teams, in physical science, life science, earth/space science, and engineering, developed the Framework sections for their respective disciplinary area.

After releasing a public draft in July of 2010, the NRC reviewed comments and considered all feedback prior to releasing the final Framework. The Framework is now being used as the foundation for the Next Generation Science Standards in a collaborative, state-led process that is managed by Achieve, an independent, nonpartisan, nonprofit education reform organization dedicated to working with states to raise academic standards and graduation requirements, improve assessments, and strengthen accountability. Created in 1996 by a bipartisan group of governors and business leaders, Achieve is leading the effort to make college and career readiness a priority across the country so that students graduating from high school are academically prepared for postsecondary success.

“The NGSX pilot program will continue to provide greatly needed resources for professional educators to be able to further advance science instruction and student learning for public school students in our region,” said Dr. Peggy Doss, dean of UAM’s School of Education.