New standards call for new practices: Classroom observation protocol helps science teachers adapt to new content

By Rolf K. Blank and Brett Moulding
February 2019
Vol. 40 No. 1
Since 2013, a majority of states have been working to implement new standards for K-12 science education that are based on the National Research Council’s framework for science education and the Next Generation Science Standards (Achieve & Lead States, 2013; NORC, 2017; National Research Council, 2012). The new science standards emphasize deeper understanding of content in relation to practices and a three-dimensional approach to science instruction. They provide an opportunity for educators to improve teaching and learning. How can we ensure that opportunity will be realized? Professional learning models are a key lever for changing instructional practices to be consistent with the learning expectations established by new standards (e.g. Daehler, Folsom, & Shinohara, 2011; Council of State Science Supervisors, 2017; Student Achievement Partners, 2017). But

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Rolf K. Blank and Brett Moulding

Rolf K. Blank ( is a project director with STEM K-12 Research and Brett Moulding ( is professional learning director with Essential Teaching and Learning.


Achieve & Lead States. (2013). Next Generation Science Standards: By states, for states. Washington, DC: National Academies Press.

Blank, R.K. & Moulding, B. (2017). Partnership for Effective Science Teaching and Learning MSP program evaluation: 2015 to 2017. Available at

Council of State Science Supervisors. (2017). Science Professional Learning Standards. Available at

Daehler, K., Folsom, J., & Shinohara, M. (2011). Making sense of science: Energy for teachers of grades 6-8. San Francisco, CA: WestED & NSTA Press.

Moulding, B. (2015, October). Partnership for Effective Science Teaching and Learning (PESTL): A vision and plan for science teaching and learning. Presentation at Utah MSP meeting, Salt Lake City, UT.

Moulding, B., Bybee, R., & Paulson, N. (2015). A vision and plan for science teaching and learning. Salt Lake City, UT: Essential Teaching and Learning Publications.

National Research Council. (2007). Taking science to school: Learning and teaching science in grades K-8.Washington, DC: The National Academies Press.

National Research Council. (2008). Ready, set, SCIENCE!: Putting research to work in K-8 science classrooms.Washington, DC: The National Academies Press.

National Research Council. (2012). A framework for K-12 science education: Practices, crosscutting concepts, and core ideas. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press.

NORC. (2017). State policies for science and mathematics assessment. Available at

Porter, A.C. (2002). Measuring the content of instruction: Uses in research and practice. Educational Researcher, 31(7), 3-14.

Resnick, L.B., Rothman, R., Slattery, J.B., & Vranek, J.L. (2004). Benchmark and alignment of standards and testing. Educational Assessment, 9(1-2), 1-27.

Student Achievement Partners. (2017). Instructional leadership and the Common Core. New York, NY: Author. Available at

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