Unit 2: What are the components of a standard?

College Biology Curriculum and the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS)

What are the components of a standard?


The Next Generation Science Standards offer a framework for instructors that assists in outlining what ideas should be scaffolded in what order to optimize student engagement and knowledge building. The NGSS also provide a model of how these ideas should be addressed at each educational level by describing a series of performance expectations.

Performance expectations are concise statements of what students should know and be able to do by the end of instruction.

Each performance expectation integrates the three dimensions of learning:

  • Disciplinary Core Ideas that describe core ideas in the science disciplines.
  • Crosscutting Concepts that describe concepts linking the different domains of science.
  • Practices that describe behaviors scientists and engineers engage in.

Possibly the most daunting aspect of the NGSS is interpreting the organization levels. Standards are organized according to grade levels: K, 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5, or bands such as Grades 6-8 and 9-12. Each grade or grade band has a sub set of standards students should be proficient in before moving to the next grade/band. In addition to being organized by grade/band performance expectations are organized into one of four domains: Physical Science (PS) Life Science (LS) Earth and Space Science (ESS) Engineering, Technology, and Applications of Science (ETS) Each domain is divided into its primary foundational concepts which are also documented in the standard code.

Review of Video Content


This first video reviews the components of a performance expectation and walks you through an example of a standard and its alphanumeric designation. The second video by Wendi Vogel is one in a series of instructional videos she provides for introducing educators to the NGSS. Some aspects will be lacking without the forms to follow the activities but she offers great guidance in reading and interpreting the standards. The website navigation incorporated into the presentation will also help streamline your use of the NGSS website.

How to Read the Standards

Unpacking a Performance Expectation in NGSS



This is a Google Form Quiz with five short answer questions. How comfortable are you with searching, reading and interpreting the NGSS and their performance expectations? Let's find out!

Unit 2 Quiz



To help sort through all the information in this unit create your own short guide to interpreting the Next Generation Science Standards and performance expectations. Post your completed guide to the group discussion. You and your partner will be responsible for evaluating each others guides and offering productive feedback. Please forward your peer reviews to each other via email and submit your evaluations as journal entries following the link below.

NGSS Guide Discussion Thread

Unit 2 Journal Entry

Unit 1: What are the Next Generation Science Standards?

Unit 3: What are the NGSS Disciplinary Core Ideas and Crosscutting Concepts?