Jeffrey Mervis has written a piece for the journal Science that gives Achieve’s NGSS chief, Stephen Pruitt, a chance to push back against the scathing Fordham report:
The Fordham Institute’s C grade reflects a fear that students will spend too little time learning the facts and, thus, won’t have enough knowledge to apply. Its report also says that the standards are not sufficiently rigorous to prepare the country’s more than 50 million precollege students for college-level work and jobs and that they slight the mathematics needed in high school physics and chemistry courses.
Pruitt argues that the Fordham analysis is outdated: “They are using the last-generation standards to judge the next-generation standards we have developed.” Addressing the National Academies’ Board on Science Education (BOSE) a day before Fordham released its critique, Pruitt said that “we need to redefine rigor. As it’s now used, rigor has led to a culture of rigor mortis.” Margaret Honey, a member of BOSE and president of the New York Hall of Science, agrees with Pruitt and thinks that it is important “to combine rigor with curiosity and engagement.”
Critics of NGSS often equate rigor with a fine-grained treatment of a topic, Pruitt says. But NGSS consciously avoids what he calls “worksheet standards”—skills that a student can demonstrate simply by doing a set of homework problems. Fordham’s criticism that NGSS calls for too much “practice” and too little “content” reflects a fundamental misunderstanding of the two terms, Pruitt adds. “Practice requires students to know the content so that they can then seek out the appropriate evidence,” he says.