New Michigan Science Standards

New Michigan Science Standards

MS girl making robot

What are the Standards?

On Tuesday November 10, 2015, the Michigan Board of Education voted to adopt the Michigan Science Standards by a vote of seven to one. These standards identify the performance outcomes for students in science and engineering. They replace the Michigan Science Standards adopted in 2006, which were published as the Grade Level Content Expectations and High School Content Expectations for science. The purpose of the new standards is to outline learning expectations for Michigan’s students. They are intended to guide local curriculum development and assessment of student progress. The standards document is not a curriculum and it does not specify classroom instruction. Michigan, one of the original lead states, is the seventeenth state to have adopted these Performance Expectations. 

Shifting Instructional Practice

According to the Michigan Department of Education (MDE), the new Science “Standards should be used by schools as a framework for curriculum development with the curriculum itself prescribing instructional resources, methods, progressions, and additional knowledge valued by the local community.” Aligning a local curriculum is more than organizing the performance expectations into specific grade levels. Although organization is part of alignment, there are huge shifts that must be implemented in order to fully realize the vision contained in the new standards. For example, science learning should be organized around students trying to make sense of observable phenomenon. Students should be asked to create explanatory/causal models that explain the phenomenon and then be required to refine those models over time. Teachers will be asked to structure investigations that build their students’ understanding so that the students are able to improve these models making them more scientifically accurate. Another powerful strategy includes collegial discourse (NGSS calls this argumentation) to make each student’s thinking visible, and the use of discussion strategies, sometimes called “talk moves”, to mediate each student’s thinking. The MI Excel document Ambitious Science Teaching paints a nice picture of this new vision for science education.  

Aligning Curriculum to the New Standards

As districts take steps to realign their science curriculum to the new standards the first question a curriculum team should consider is: How will we proceed through this work?  ( ) In order to be successful, you need the right people doing the right work. Taking time and proceeding slowly will strengthen implementation. Studying together to create a common understanding enhances the decision process.

Questions that can guide teams as they get started are, Will we...

  • Establish a committee that will serve as a curriculum study group?
  • Determine the scope of the study and the number of participants?
  • Garner the needed resources to support the work of this study and implementation?
  • Strategically choose teacher leaders and others as committee members—considering those who will see things from different perspectives?
  • Build the understanding and internal capacity of the curriculum study team?
  • Schedule and organize time for the study and work to be completed in depth?
  • Create a survey from the committee to determine need and gather feedback?
  • Establish goals and a timeline?
  • Identify the decision making process for the purchase of materials if that is a result of the work? What criteria will you use?
  • Consider an implementation plan that includes quality and aligned professional development around understanding standards and best instructional practices?

Establishing a purpose and a process for this work are the first two steps in beginning the task of curriculum review. The third step is using agreed upon criteria to make content curriculum decisions. To support your curriculum team’s efforts Wayne RESA has created a Science Curriculum Coherence Document. The purpose of the document is to help you save time as you navigate through the curriculum process. To download the document, please CLICK HERE .

WRESA Science Professional Development Support Plan

Wayne RESA is committed to providing leadership and service to support teaching and learning around the new standards.  Below are three levels of resources and professional development to assist school leaders and teachers as they study the standards and move forward with implementation.

Level 1    What are the new science standards? (On-your-own learning)

  • Michigan Science Standards are the Performance Expectations from the Next Generation Science Standards
  • Full information available from Wayne RESA at:

  • Supporting Materials for the Michigan Science Standards are the same as the Next Generation Science Standards

  • The best way to get “up to date” in understanding the Michigan Science Standards:
Read the free download of the Framework for K-12 Science Education.

Review the resources in the online Course focusing on the Science and Engineering Practices 

Attend the Wayne County Science Leaders Meetings, 4-6pm, 2/2/2016 and 4/5/2016. Registration

Take an online course. Mi-STAR Academy is a series of online modules that provide educators with resources and skills to develop curriculum aligned with the new Michigan Science Standards.

Level 2    What do the new science standards look like in the classroom? (Face-to-face)

  • PD Offering: Engineering Professional Development

5289 Engineering in the Elementary Classroom - 3/21/2016

5275 Engineering in the Middle School Classroom3/10/2016

Level 3    District Science Leader Training

  • NGSX - Next Generation Science Exemplar

This is an 8 day session.

Multiple cohorts will be offered.