There are nine “Guiding Principles for Science Programs in California”:
- Programs are based on grade-level specific standards (K-8) and content strands (9-12) and use instructional materials that are aligned to those same standards.
- Grade level and content aligned academic scientific language development must be explicitly taught at all grade levels (K-12). A successful science program will teach students to use this language in scientific settings to ensure full understanding of the concepts, not just rote memorization.
- Successful science programs will take an all inclusive approach comprising in in equal parts of reading, direct instruction, investigation, and experimentation. Students will learn qualitative observational skills and quantitative skills which will begin in elementary school and be refined all the way through high school.
- Teachers will use a variety of instructional strategies to appeal to the wide array of learning styles that are present in every class and provide students with multiple chances to master the content standards.
- Assessments covering student’s prior knowledge, monitoring student learning progression and evaluating mastery level for the standards are included in every good science program. Teachers need to understand where their students understanding is in relation to the grade level standard to design or adapt curriculum that is within their zone of proximal development. Science instruction is a pathway spiraling upward, a teacher can not instruct without ensuring the foundation is present and connected, otherwise, the lesson will fail because it is built upon nothing.
- Effective science teachers and programs engage all the student skill levels within the classroom. Students need the curriculum to be within their personal zone of proximal development, meaning high achievers will need material enhanced whereas low achieving students will need modifications and scaffolding to ensure their success.
- Technology has many uses in the science classroom; it can be used to help teach students, assess the knowledge of students, develop resources, provide information and strengthen computer/technology literacy.
- Successful science programs must have enough instructional resources as well as library-media and administrative support.
- Finally, good science programs will have cross curricular lessons with other core subjects to reinforce science knowledge acquisition.