With new science standards, coaching is key

By Justin Andersson, Daniel Sitzman, Amy Arneson and Elizabeth Gandhi
February 2021
As the world races to combat a pandemic, slow climate change, and solve many other public health challenges, it’s clear that developing young people’s scientific knowledge should be an urgent priority in schools. The goal of the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) is to foster scholars and citizens who can think critically and creatively to address such problems and contribute to other scientific advances. The standards are based on A Framework for K-12 Science Education (National Research Council, 2012) and its vision to actively engage students over multiple years of school in three dimensions of science learning: scientific and engineering practices, the application of crosscutting concepts to deepen student understanding, and mastery of disciplinary core ideas (National Research Council, 2015). This kind of thinking is

Read the remaining content with membership access. Join or log in below to continue.

Sed ut perspiciatis unde omnis iste natus error sit voluptatem accusantium doloremque laudantium, totam rem aperiam, eaque ipsa quae ab illo inventore veritatis et quasi architecto beatae vitae dicta sunt explicabo. Nemo enim ipsam voluptatem quia voluptas sit aspernatur aut odit aut fugit, sed quia consequuntur magni dolores eos qui ratione voluptatem sequi nesciunt. Neque porro quisquam est, qui dolorem ipsum quia dolor sit amet, consectetur, adipisci velit, sed quia non numquam eius modi tempora incidunt ut labore et dolore magnam aliquam quaerat voluptatem.

Log In

Additional professional learning opportunities

Conferences: Short bursts of training focused on a specific area of content or pedagogy, such as National Science Teaching Association national or regional conferences, the state science teachers conference, or other professional conferences.

Immersion experiences: One-time intensive engagement opportunities to immerse participants in inquiry for a specific science content area. Generally, these took place over several days or weeks.

Lesson study: An intensive curriculum development inquiry cycle consisting of identifying a curricular topic of interest, planning and conducting a research lesson, and using data to illuminate student learning, lesson design, and broader issues within teaching and learning (Lewis & Hurd, 2011).

Curriculum writing: Training in the five tools and processes for Next Generation Science Standards instruction (American Museum of Natural History, 2016) and five practices for orchestrating student discussion (Cartier et al., 2013). Working as a team of four to five teachers plus an instructional coach to create lesson plans and course guides for all units and instructional sequences in the new curriculum.

Graduate coursework: University courses that fit into advanced degrees, as well as courses that supported lesson study, curriculum writing, and immersion experiences.


Aguilar, E. (2013). The art of coaching: Effective strategies for school transformation. Jossey-Bass.

American Museum of Natural History. (2016). Five tools and processes for NGSS instruction: AMNH.

Cartier, J.L., Smith, M.S., Stein, M.K., & Ross, D.K. (2013). Five practices for orchestrating productive task-based discussions in science. National Council of Teachers of Mathematics.

Davidson, S., Arneson, A., Lewis, K., & Gandhi, E. (2019). Omaha Public Schools K-12 Comprehensive Science Teaching & Learning Grant: Evaluation of the 2018-2019 grant extension. Education Northwest.

Haag, S. & Megowan, C. (2015). Next Generation Science Standards: A national mixed-methods study on teacher readiness. School Science and Mathematics, 115(8), 416-426.

Lee, O., Miller, E., & Januszyk, R. (Eds.). (2015). NGSS for all students. NSTA Press.

Lewis, C.C. & Hurd, J. (2011). Lesson study step by step: How teacher learning communities improve instruction.Heinemann.

National Research Council. (2012). A framework for K-12 science education. National Academies Press.

National Research Council. (2015). Guide to implementing the Next Generation Science Standards. National Academies Press.

Passmore, C. (2015). Shifting to NGSS-aligned classrooms. Leadership, 44(4), 24-27.

Justin Andersson ( is a doctoral student and former science instructional coach for Omaha Public Schools in Nebraska.

Dan Sitzman ( is a science instructional coach in Omaha Public Schools.

Amy Arneson ( is a data fellow for applied research and evaluation at Education Northwest in Portland, Oregon.

Elizabeth Gandhi ( is a senior advisor for applied research and evaluation at Education Northwest in Portland, Oregon.

The Learning Professional

Published Date


  • Recent Issues

    April 2022

    This issue celebrates the many ways coaches are helping schools thrive in...

    February 2022

    Collaboration and trust are essential to high-quality professional...

    December 2021

    Building equity takes leadership at every level – in classrooms,...

    October 2021

    How do you lead in times of crisis? It starts with openness to learning...