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WSSLS Resources

Washington State Science Learning Standards: Resources for Teachers, Administrators, Parents, and Students

The Washington State 2013 K-12 Science Learning Standards (WSSLS) are the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). These standards describe what students should know and be able to do at each grade level. The State Board of Education strongly believes in the importance of the successful implementation of Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) and the continued sustainability of high-quality science education in the state of Washington.

It is our hope that this page will serve as a resource for teachersadministratorsparents and students.

Infographic on Community Forums

Background on NGSS

The NGSS were developed, beginning in 2010, with a collaborative of 26 state Lead Partners, the National Research Council, the National Science Teachers Association, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and Achieve. A committee of practicing scientists, cognitive scientists, science education researchers and science standards and policy experts provided guidance. The standards went through several rounds of review with multiple stakeholders. Two drafts were made public so comment and input could be collected from any interested member of the public. According to Achieve, no federal funds or incentives were used to create or adopt the standards.

Washington was the eighth state to adopt NGSS. So far, 18 states (Washington, Hawaii, Oregon, California, Nevada, Kansas, Arkansas, Iowa, Illinois, Michigan, Kentucky, West Virginia, Maryland, New Jersey, Delaware, Connecticut, Vermont, Rhode Island) and the District of Columbia have adopted the standards, and South Dakota has adopted similar standards. In addition, many districts have adopted the standards in states that have not adopted the standards as a state.

The development of the standards followed the development of a framework published by the National Research Council in 2011, the Framework for K-12 Science Standards, that provides the foundation for the standards through research on the ways student learn science effectively. The framework describes an integrated vision of K-12 science education, and outlines the major practices, crosscutting concepts and disciplinary core ideas that students should be familiar with by the end of high school. Dr. Philip Bell, who the Board will be hearing from at this meeting, was a member of the committee that developed the framework.

The Framework for K12 Science Standards defined several guiding assumptions for the new standards including:

  • Children are Born Investigators
  • Focusing on Core Ideas and Practices—limiting a set of core ideas to encourage depth of meaningful understanding
  • Understanding Develops over Time
  • Science and Engineering Require Both Knowledge and Practice
  • Connecting to Students’ Interests and Experiences
  • Promoting Equity

Promoting equity in science education was a foundational assumption of the development of the standards framework. The framework calls out the benefit to both students and the study of science when students with diverse customs and orientations from different cultures engage in science—embracing diversity enhances science learning. Ultimately, the framework finds that, “The goal of educational equity is one of the reasons to have rigorous standards that apply to all students. Not only should all students be expected to attain these standards, but also work is needed to ensure that all are provided with high-quality opportunities to engage in significant science and engineering learning.” The promotion of equity as an integral part of implementing science standards accords well with the Board’s interest in educational equity, and could be part of the Board’s work in promoting equity across graduation requirement subject areas. 

Part of the vision of the framework that formulated in the standards is that teaching and learning of science involves three dimensions: 1) science and engineering practices, 2) crosscutting concepts, and 3) disciplinary core ideas. Each standard is described in each of these dimensions. The first dimension includes the behaviors employed by scientists, engineers and students to pursue scientific inquiry and learning. The second dimension includes concepts and big ideas such as cause and effect, energy and matter, stability and change, that link domains of science. The core content domains of physical sciences, life sciences, earth and space sciences and engineering, technology and applications of sciences are contained within the third dimension. 

Implementing the NGSS standards with fidelity will require science instruction to change throughout K-12 education. Read more here.

Parents swinging child

Resources for Parents

Next Generation Website:

Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction:

Ready Washington:

As an introduction, the below video was produced by Ready Washington and focuses on the hands-on aspects of the NGSS. From Ready WA's website: Matt Whitton and Victoria Wells teach science in different, smaller school districts in southwestern Washington. The two districts, Kalama and Ridgefield, sit about 20 minutes apart on the Interstate 5 corridor.

"What I really find exciting about these standards is that they put the discovery and encountering of science back in the hands of the student," Whitton said. "I feel there's been a fundamental shift with these standards towards the students being at the center of constructing their understanding."

"The Next Generation Science Standards are not only encouraging,"  Well said, "but demand students to think about what they are doing in a much higher-level fashion and using much higher critical-thinking skills."

Resources for Adminstrators

STEM Teaching Tools:

Institute for Systems Biology: Logan Center for Education

Teacher in lab with students

Resources for Teachers

Next Generation Science Website:

STEM Teaching Tools:


National Science Teachers Association:

Students in classroom


Keep checking back for more resources to be added here soon.